Derby County are facing an early season injury crisis in midfield ahead of tonight’s League Cup first round clash against Grimsby Town.

The Rams opened their season with a 1-1 draw at Championship new boys Sunderland on Friday evening, but are counting the cost of a physical encounter.

New arrival Tom Huddlestone is one of a host of players likely to be rested after he needed medical attention following his involvement at the Stadium of Light.

“We will have some changes which will be enforced,” manager Gary Rowett told the club’s official website.

“Tom Huddlestone had about five bags of ice on his body after the game at Sunderland, and with so many games coming up, you have to take these things into consideration.”

The manager will probably be forced to rest three other players – all of them midfielders or wingers – for the match against the League Two outfit.

“Bradley Johnson has had a few niggles with his ankle as well, and Johnny Russell has a dead leg, so we have to be sensible,” Rowett confirmed.

“Craig Bryson has had an issue in his hamstring as well.

“The plan was to inject it after the Sunderland game and allow it to settle this week; so we’ll assess him, but he possibly won’t be available so he can be alright for the next four or five games.”

As Derby head to Lincolnshire for tonight’s match, Rowett will have to make use of his squad if they are to progress to the next round.

Striker Darren Bent, left-back Max Lowe, centre-back Jason Shackell and midfielder George Thorne are all long-term injuries.

Bryson came on as a late replacement for Russell at the weekend, only to end the match injured, meaning the point the Rams earned on Wearside came at some cost.

With neither available, Mason Bennett could earn his first opportunity of the season.

David Nugent and Matej Vydra, who both came on during the Championship opener, are also in contention to play.

Chris Baird, an unused substitute against Sunderland, may slot into the midfield while Jamie Hanson, Jacob Butterfield and Ikechi Anya are options to either start or sit on the bench.

Derby beat Grimsby 1-0 at Pride Park at the same stage of last season’s competition.

The Mariners opened their league campaign with a 3-1 win away at Chesterfield Town on Saturday.

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