Derby County are in talks to sign ex-Celtic defender Efe Ambrose on a free transfer, according to the Daily Mail.
However, both Bolton Wanderers and Nottingham Forest also expressed an interest in securing his services. Despite this, Ambrose appears to have opted to join the Rams on a short-term contract.
Just how serious Martin O’Neill’s interest in the defender was is unknown. It’s been well-documented how short the Reds are in the centre-back position. New signings Molla Wagué and Alex Milošević are the only recognised centre-backs available to O’Neill for this weekend’s game.
The likes of Michael Dawson, Michael Hefele, Tobias Figueiredo and Yohan Benalouane are all unavailable due to injury, or in the latter’s case, suspension.
Considering the Reds are chasing down a play-off spot, the injuries couldn’t have mounted up at a more inconvenient time. Ambrose would certainly have helped address the issue, but would it have been worth bloating the squad further for short-term gain?
Ambrose adds experience
There’s no doubt that Ambrose is a very experienced defender. The Nigerian’s most recent spell came at Hibernian, where he made a significant impact over a three-year spell. He recently activated a clause in his contract to leave Easter Road, so that he could explore interest from Championship clubs.
Considering they offered him a new deal, Ambrose’s departure will have been a huge blow to Hibs. It seems that the opportunity to prove himself in English football was too much for the defender to turn down.
Although he hasn’t played since December, Ambrose did make 24 appearances for Hibs in the first half of the season. It shouldn’t take him long to get back to full match fitness. Frank Lampard will be hoping he can make an impact for the Rams as soon as possible.
The highlight of his career so far will undoubtedly be his five-year spell at Celtic. He made over 160 appearances for the Hoops, including in the Champions League. Ambrose will be looking to use this experience to his advantage in the Championship.
Should the Reds have pushed for Ambrose?
As earlier mentioned, just how serious the Reds’ interest in Ambrose was is unknown. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if they were seriously interested in him though, given the current injury situation.
Despite this, it’s unlikely anyone at the club will be too disappointed to see him decide to go elsewhere. After signing five players in January, the Reds currently have 32 players in the first team squad. That is a very difficult number for O’Neill to deal with and keep happy.
If Ambrose did arrive at the City Ground, it would’ve only been a short-term measure. Once the likes of Dawson, Figueiredo and Hefele return, he would’ve found himself way down the pecking order.
Together with his likely considerable wages, the Reds have avoided an arguably needless addition to the squad. However, if Ambrose goes on to become a hit at Pride Park, then it could prove to be an opportunity missed.
With the latest East Midlands derby on the horizon, Reds supporters will be hoping Ambrose struggles to adjust to life in the Championship and proves to be a poor addition for the Rams.