Alex McLeish is confident Karl Darlow can handle the pressure of Saturday’s Pride Park encounter with Derby (kick-off 1pm).The 22 year old goalkeeper will make only his second league start for The Reds in the eagerly-anticipated all-East Midlands clash.
McLeish expects Darlow to be his first choice ‘keeper for the remainder of the season and insists he has the utmost confidence in the 22 year old.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt about Karl’s confidence or his belief the belief he has in himself,” the manager told us.
“I’m sure he’ll feel a few butterflies but you wouldn’t want to go into a game without feeling that.
“As soon as I found out he was 22 I asked why we hadn’t been playing him?
“He looks very confident in training but Paul Barron explained he missed a year or two of his development by playing only five games in one of those years.
“That’s why at his age he hasn’t had experience of playing a number of games at a level.
“He will make a mistake someday but what you’ve got to remember Joe Hart makes mistakes.
“The thing about Karl is nothing fazes him. People will put a spin on that and say the moment he loses a goal that he perhaps should save it’s because he’s inexperienced.
“But we won’t look at it that way because we’ve got real belief in him.”
The Reds could have Dexter Blackstock available again for the game at Pride Park after he missed last weekend’s win over Peterborough with a slight knock.
Skipper Danny Collins is available again after serving a one-match ban but Andy Reid, Daniel Ayala (both hamstring injuries) and Adlene Guedioura (away on African Cup of Nations duty) remain sidelined.