Date: 19th May 2010 at 10:08am
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James Bailey and John Brayford have completed their moves to Derby County today in a deal worth over £1million to Crewe.

Having accepted the offer from Derby last Friday, the club gave permission for the pair to speak with Rams boss Nigel Clough over the weekend. Having had medicals, crossed the t`s and dotted the i`s, the deal was completed today.

The Alex are set to receive a ‘guaranteed` fee of over £1million and have also included a sell-on clause, thought to be 15% of any future profit per player. It`s sure to be a good deal in a league which rarely sees transfer fees hit the £1million mark.

For Brayford and Bailey it`s a chance to test themselves in a higher league, the quality of which has improved ten fold since we were last there just five years ago.

21 year old Bailey leaves having limited experience all round. Coming through the academy, he made his debut in December 2007 as a substitute against Doncaster. It wasn`t until an impressive pre-season under Steve Holland in the summer of 2008 that his senior career really took off.

He unexpectedly began the 2008-2009 season in the starting line up and impressive displays in League One saw him ever present in the team till a nasty knee injury at the start of 2009 halted his progression.

Injuries played havoc right through 2009, in which Bails made just 14 appearances for the first team. It wasn`t until February of this year he found not only fitness but also form, forging a fantastic partnership with fellow youngster Ashley Westwood in the middle of the park. One of the best passers in the team, Bails is not unknown to get stuck in despite his size and has several dominant midfield performances this season.

The move for Bailey will perhaps come as a surprise to some Alex fans but when it comes to John Brayford – it was only a matter of time. The former Burton Albion man has long been linked with Derby, ever since the day his boss from Albion, Nigel Clough, took the reigns at Pride Park.

After the 22 year old made the £130,000 move from Burton to Gresty Road in September 2008 he immediately made the right back spot his own, becoming the rock of the Alex defence – despite it`s pretty dreadful goals against tally.

Making over 80 appearances in two years, he has been virtually ever present in the side since signing and his performances haven`t gone unnoticed, earning a place in this season`s PFA League Two Team Of The Year.

Despite the Alex defence conceding some 150 league goals in Brayford`s time here, it is credit to Brayford`s credit that he is still recognised as one of the best defenders in the Football League.

Two men who don`t doubt either players ability are Dario Gradi and Nigel Clough. Speaking today about the pair, both managers are excited to see how they fare in the Championship next season.

Speaking to the official website,, Dario said that both will settle into the Championship with no problem:

‘James has come in and done very well. He was something of a late developer with us and we had to be patient with him to allow him to develop physically. He has come a long way.

‘He is certainly good enough to play in the Championship. He has great ability and will improve as well.

“John came to us from non-league and has become our best defender at both right-back and at centre-back.

‘He was a super signing for us. He went virtually into our first team and his progress has been very good. People ask me what he is like and I do compare him to Jon Otsemobor and he has played in the Championship and higher.

“He has been low maintenance throughout his time with us and has been a super lad.’

Their new manager meanwhile has challenged both Brayford and Bailey to force their way into his starting 11 come August. Nigel Clough, speaking to

‘They’re both very excited about coming to play for Derby and I think it is the right time for them to have a crack at the Championship.

‘We see the standard of full-backs in the Championship and we think John is up to that standard. He’s only 22 and has got a lot of learning to do but he’s not frightened, physically. Over the years, we’ve seen him go into tackles that would make people twice his size wince.

“James has been around Crewe’s first team for the past two or three season and is someone we have watched extensively

“Every member of staff who has been to watch James Bailey this season has come back with exactly the same opinion – he’s a very good player and as good a passer as we’ve seen in League One or League Two.

“They might take a while to settle in – or they might get in the team and play 40 or 50 games for us. You don’t get that absolute guarantee that you get from signing experienced Championship players.”

So, two of our best players depart but we net a huge fee. Will it be re-invested into the side or will it get swallowed up by the running costs of the academy? It should, at least, mean no more player sales for the rest of the summer, allowing us to keep the likes of Westwood, Zola & Donaldson.

In the mean time, Vital Crewe would like to wish Bailey and Brayford the best of luck at their new club.