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Derby County are to forge links with Dutch club FC Utrecht in a similar venture to Manchester United's long-standing relationship with Belgian club Royal Antwerp.

Bill Green, head of the Rams' scouting network, and chairman of football Adam Pearson are driving the idea which is in its infancy.

Derby see the link-up as highly beneficial and a vehicle for coaches to make visits between the two clubs and compare styles and set-ups, and an opportunity for the Rams to loan young players to Utrecht to give them first-team experience.

United have done this successfully down the years, with the likes of John O'Shea and Phil Bardsley spending time at Antwerp.

"The idea is to exchange ideas and there are lots of positives for both clubs," said Rams boss Paul Jewell.

"It is something Bill Green and Adam Pearson are moving forward and we are very keen to forge links.

"It's an education. We can look at different things - coaching styles, youth set-up and there may be a case of of us loaning them one or two of our young players to give them experience, a bit like Manchester United do with Antwerp."

Utrecht sit 11th in the 18-club Eredivisie, the country's top division.

The club was founded in 1970 following the merger of three clubs - DOS, Elinkwijk and Velox - and is the only club outside the big traditional three of Ajax, Feyenoord and PSV never to have been relegated.

They play at the 24,000 capacity Stadion Galgenwaard and Wim van Hanegem is their manager.

Van Hanegem was one of the best midfield players of his day and played for Holland in the 1974 World Cup final. He also managed Feyenoord and was assistant to national team boss Dick Advocaat between 2002 and 2004.

Notable players to have appeared for Utrecht down the years include van Hanegem, Hans van Breukelen, Dirk Kuyt and Jan Wouters.

Holland and not the United States will be the pre-season destination for Derby in their build-up to the Championship campaign.

A trip to the US had seemed likely after new American owners took control of the club at the end of January but it was felt a shorter trip to Europe would be more beneficial for the players as they prepare for the new season.

The Rams will spend six days at a training camp in Holland in early July and will play one match. The opponents, date and venue have yet to be announced.

"We were going to go to America but, logistically, it did not work out and the most important thing is the prepartion for next season, so we have decided to go to Holland, a place I have been on numerous occasions," said manager Paul Jewell.

"It is a pity for the American owners but maybe next year we will get out to the States."

Derby's other pre-season games will be at Burton Albion on July 16, at Rotherham United on July 19, at Oldham Athletic on July 23 and Lincoln City on July 26.

There will also be a friendly at Pride Park Stadium against opposition to be announced.

A Derby County XI will play at Matlock Town on July 30 as a fund-raiser for the Gladiators' new stand appeal.
 

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I think this is something, that for me personally is a good and benefitial for the club to do. Firstly it allows us to let some of our youth players to go and play not only first team football, but allow them to expereince a different style of football in Holland.

Also hopefully we may be able to get some young Dutch players as well, who we all know are more often than not, technically more accomplished than our players
 
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