Wayne Rooney could use as many as seven trialists in cash-strapped Derby’s game at Salford on Saturday.
Rams boss Rooney is trying to step up his preparations for their Championship opener at home to Huddersfield on August 7.
But an exodus of players this summer has left him with just 13 senior pros under contract and he is only able to line up free agents or loans.
It follows wantaway owner Mel Morris’ protracted row with the EFL over Derby’s finances and the collapse of two proposed takeovers.
Rooney, whose side only stayed up on the final day last term, has since taken on seven trialists.
They are Ravel Morrison, Sone Aluko, Sam Baldock, Richard Stearman, Phil Jagielka, Ryan Allsop and Tom Carroll.
Wayne Rooney has a tough task on his hands at cash-strapped Derby this term following a raft of exits
All of whom could feature in this weekend’s friendly but the EFL may limit the signing of any new arrivals to four players.
But Curtis Davies and Andre Wisdom, whose Derby contracts expired at the end of June, are also training with the Rams and are set to be offered deals if County find the funds.
Last weekend Derby lost 2-1 at home to Manchester United as Morrison, Aluko, Baldock, Stearman and Jagielka featured in the club’s first public pre-season fixture.
Rooney would like the option to keep the players permanently but admits the final decision rests with Morris and CEO Stephen Pearce.
He said: “The players we have looked at we have identified.
“They have wanted to come in and be around the squad.
“Beyond that is a question for Mel and Stephen Pearce but from my point of view all I can do is focus on the players to get them fit for the first game of the season.
Derby owner Mel Morris still wants to sell up after seeing two proposed takeovers collapse this year
(Image: PA Wire/PA Images)
“Once things open up and I can do stuff, they will be in a very good position to sign.
“It was important to see how they fit in with our style of play.”
Rooney felt the loss to his old club United was a useful work-out despite the result
He added: “I thought in the game there were some really good things we had been working on.
“It was a good competitive game.
“It was pleasing for me.
“Pre-season is a chance to put my imprint on the team and see how the players develop.
“These games are good for me to see their qualities.”
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