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Rooney takes his place on bench for Derby as their Ireland U21 international Jason Knight looks for inspiration

Elsewhere in the Championship, the honeymoon is over for new Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill after another defeat while Shaun Williams hits a stunner for Millwall.

Wayne Rooney is all smiles.
Wayne Rooney is all smiles.
Image: Scott Wilson

WAYNE ROONEY WATCHED from the Derby County bench for the first time in his role as a coach as the Rams drew 1-1 with Queens Park Rangers.

Republic of Ireland U21 international Jason Knight made a late substitute appearance and the talented midfielder is continuing to fight his way back into manager Phillip Cocu’s starting XI.

After making an impressive start to the season, Knight has fallen out of favour and had to make do with a place on the bench since the start of September.

Cocu raved about the Dubliner’s talents back in August and he will be hoping the influence of Rooney can act as a catalyst for a strong second half of the season.

Rooney has joined Derby as a player/coach but must wait until January before he can be considered for selection. 

Whether the former Manchester United and England captain will be used primarily as a forward remains to be seen, as he finished his Old Trafford career in a midfield role.

That may well lead to a closer working relationship with Knight, as well as offering further competition to get back in the side.

Elsewhere in the Championship, the honeymoon is over for new Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill.

Blackburn Rovers inflicted a second defeat on the bounce for the former Shamrock Rovers boss, who will also remain in charge of Northern Ireland until after the Euro 2020 play-offs.

James McClean thought he had salvaged a draw for Stoke when his 80th-minute corner was deflected in for an own goal by Corry Evans.

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stoke-city-v-blackburn-rovers-sky-bet-championship-bet365-stadium James McClean was on form once again for Stoke. Source: Barrington Coombs

But Rovers snatched a 2-1 win four minutes later through Sam Gallagher as reality sets in for O’Neill, whose side are second bottom, three points from safety.

Darren Randolph, meanwhile, was again absent with a groin injury for Middlesbrough, as they were thumped 4-0 away to Leeds United, who leapfrogged West Brom with the win.

Boro, with Robbie Keane as assistant to manager Jonathan Woodgate, are just one point above the relegation zone but things are now looking considerably rosier for Millwall, despite Shaun Williams’ superb 25-yard striker being cancelled out in 1-1 draw away to Birmingham City.

The Ireland midfielder struck what looked to be the winner with a little under half an hour remaining but Jake Clarke-Salter pounced with a header to earn a point.

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