Date: 14th July 2011 at 9:16pm
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Lee Croft is looking for a fresh start during pre-season after spending the 2010/11 season out in the cold with a half-season loan to Huddersfield Town that saw him only make only three appearances before he returned to Pride Park in January only to find himself still not in manager Nigel Clough`s plans. The winger was lauded as a missing piece of the jigsaw when he came to the club on a free transfer in the summer of 2009 and he started brightly only for his form to fade and he was used mainly as a substitute and even left of the squad altogether at times and finished the season only having made a total of sixteen appearances.

Stories circled that Croft had fallen out of favour with Clough and a half-season loan was agreed ahead of the start of the following season to take him to Huddersfield Town who were tipped to challenge for promotion from League One under the stewardship of Lee Clark. Things didn`t work out for Croft and Clough made noises that the player would go out on loan again as he was not part of his plans but there were no takers and he remained at Pride Park for the rest of the season. After clear the air talks Croft feels he has a lot to prove but states he is willing to knuckle down and fight for his place telling the official website:

‘It’s looking positive so far. At the end of last season I had a chat with the Gaffer and he told me to come back after the break in good shape and be ready to go. I came away from that meeting feeling positive and hopefully I can force my way back into his plans. It was the most challenging season of my career, but it is behind me now. Mentally and as a player, I will be stronger for it.”

‘Even when I was feeling low (at not being involved) I tried to be upbeat around the place. I used that time to get as fit as I could be, and I think the Gaffer noticed that. I feel I have a point to prove to a lot of people this year, including myself. As a professional footballer, to not be involved in the squad does hurt. That mindset can spur you on and make you more determined, and that is how I feel.’