Derby County's best players told they could be sold to ensure survival

EXCLUSIVE: Derby County’s players are told to let it be known if they want to leave this month with club needing to sell to prolong survival – while ex-Newcastle owner Mike Ashley grows frustrated with administrators as he considers Rams bid

  • Derby County are in serious danger of liquidation after entering administration
  • The Championship club need to resolve their hefty £29million debt with HMRC
  • Players have been told to speak with the administrators if they want to leave
  • Wayne Rooney wanted to keep his squad intact to boost their survival chances
  • Sportsmail also understands Mike Ashley could walk away from his takeover bid

Derby County’s players have been told to speak to the administrators if they want to leave this month, with hopes fading of a prompt takeover and cash desperately needed to survive the season.

Sportsmail also understands that Mike Ashley is growing increasingly frustrated with Quantuma, the club’s administrators, and could withdraw his interest if issues that would pave the way for a potential bid are not sorted urgently.

Ashley is not alone in being irritated by the business advisory firm and they have infuriated other clubs by ignoring calls and rejecting offers for players, despite the dire financial situation that is threatening Derby’s existence.

Derby players have been told to speak to the administrators if they want to leave this month

Mike Ashley is also growing frustrated with Quantuma over issues concerning his takeover bid

However, the squad were addressed by manager Wayne Rooney and the administrators at the training ground on Friday morning and we understand it was relayed then that offers would now be considered.

The EFL have asked the club to provide proof of having the funds to complete the current campaign, and players sales are seen as the quickest way to generate cash. There is concern among some that wages could go unpaid this month.

Rooney had wanted to keep his squad together beyond January, especially because their good form has given rise to hope of beating relegation despite their 21-point deduction. They are currently 11 points from safety.

Wayne Rooney was hoping to keep his squad intact beyond the January transfer window

But players such as Louie Sibley and Lee Buchanan – both 20 years old – will now almost certainly be the subject of renewed offers.

It was also communicated on Friday that restrictions are in place blocking Rooney from signing new players or renewing contracts, meaning Phil Jagielka’s short-term deal has been cancelled. Rooney is said to be furious that his former Everton and England team-mate has been forced to leave.

Quantuma have delayed naming a preferred bidder for the club since last year. A consortium including former Wolves chief executive Jez Moxey and ex-Derby chairman Andrew Appleby have made an offer, although sources say Ashley represents the best hope of saving the club.

The likes of Lee Buchanan (left) and Louie Sibley (right) are likely to be the subject of offers

However, he is yet to make an offer and will not do so until issues such as compensation claims from Middlesbrough and Wycombe are resolved. The claims are said to total £45m and £6m respectively.

Sportsmail reported last month how the club was in serious danger of liquidation unless a deal could be reached with HMRC to quarter the £29million it is owed. This remains another unresolved issue.

Derby were docked 12 points after entering administration in September and a further nine points for breaches of EFL financial rules under former owner Mel Morris.

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