Derby County want to ease Albion’s selection decisions in defence by welcoming back Matt Clarke.

The Rams would love to see their newly-crowned player of the year return next term.

They see the most realistic route to that as another loan deal, providing Albion are willing for him to stay at the same club for a second season.

Clarke played 37 times for Derby in the 2019-20 campaign and was voted their top man by fans in an online poll.

That completed a hat-trick after he won back-to-back player of the year awards at Portsmouth.

Clarke has come under the guidance of former Netherlands international Phillip Cocu and ex-Albion defender Liam Rosenior, who is now a first-team coach at Pride Park.

Rosenior said of Clarke:” His attitude is spot on, he is the ultimate pro.

“He does everything right away from the training ground, he wants to learn every day and when you have that mentality, you are going to improve because you are open to improvement.

“He is another real plus point to come out of the season and I know the manager is absolutely delighted with his input, as well. What he needs to do now is continue it.”

Albion have a wealth of resources at centre-back, be it as part of a two or three.

Such are their riches there was no look-in last season for Nigeria defender Leon Balogun, who earned high praise from Steven Gerrard on Saturday after his Rangers debut alongside Connor Goldson in a 1-0 win at Aberdeen.

As things stand, Lewis Dunk, Shane Duffy, Adam Webster and Dan Burn will be joined for pre-season by Joel Veltman, Ben White, Leo Ostigard and Clarke.