Breaking news: Both Jame Collins and Conor Hourihane of  Derby County’s key players has hinted at early retirement after discovering…

Derby County have the highest average age in the whole of League One (27.8), with some of their most important players already in their 30s.

The likes of Curtis Nelson, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and James Collins are all getting on now, while loanee Tyreece John-Jules is the only ‘young’ striker they have in the whole squad.

So it comes as no surprise that one of the Rams is now considering retirement and their plans after playing football.

Conor Hourihane has played an important role in helping Derby reach second place in League One this season and while he won’t be hanging up his boots this summer, the midfielder has admitted he is no longer ‘scared’ of retirement.

The 33-year-old began his senior career 25 years ago and has since played for the likes of Plymouth Argyle, Barnsley and Aston Villa, before arriving at Pride Park in 2022.

If Hourihane guides Derby to the Championship this season then it will be his third promotion so far.

While his full focus is getting the job done, Hourihane has admitted that he wants to be prepared for life after football.

Speaking to BBC Sport about going into management, the midfielder said: “It’s a road I’m going down for sure.

“I think because of the coaching which has obsessed me, it may have brought the line forward a little bit.

“When I left Villa when I was 31, I was probably scared of retiring. I’m not that scared anymore.

“I definitely think there is a young crop of managers now who are coming through. Look at the Championship, obviously there is Liam Rosenior, Liam Manning, Russell Martin, and [Steven] Schumacher at Stoke and people like that.

“That does give you hope that that clubs are going that direction. And for me it’s about being the best prepared I can be for when I finish.”

Conor Hourihane has no intention of retiring this summer, though his future at Pride Park remains uncertain.

He is currently the Rams’ captain and has been vital in a good run of form for the team this term, picking up four goals and six assists in League One.

However, his contract is up at the end of the season and there has been little talk on whether it will be renewed.

It may well depend on which league Derby County sit in next season, but there is no doubt that he will continue his brilliant playing career if his time here does come to an end.

Hourihane is one of many in their 30s at Derby, so the club will have to start considering snapping up some youth this summer if they want to avoid their entire squad hanging their own boots up over the next few years.

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