New signing Efe Ambrose is probably a couple of weeks away from being involved in Derby County’s squad, says manager Frank Lampard.
The 30-year-old free agent has joined the Rams on a deal until the end of the season , subject to international clearance.
His last game before leaving Hibernian in the January transfer window was against Hearts in the Scottish Premiership at the end of December, and he is having to play catch up with his fitness.
“Efe will have to be assessed at the start of next week,” said Lampard.
“There was certainly an issue with match fitness, as there has been with Ashley Cole, none of their own fault. Ashley was out of season, and Efe was out of contract.
“Whatever you do in that situation does not equate to training and be prepared to play a match.
“My feeling is he (Ambrose) is a week or two away from being in the squad,” he told the club’s website.
Ambrose, a Nigerian international, will bring competition at centre back where the first-choice pair of Richard Keogh and Fikayo Tomori had been the only recognised centre backs with captain Curtis Davies out for the season through injury and Alex Pearce out on loan at Millwall.
“Efe also brings experience of playing at Celtic, many games, and Hibernian, and playing internationally,” said Lampard.
“That maybe a hugely-deciding factor in our season depending how we go because we know we have a tough run-in of games and a busy fixture list.”
Ambrose more than 200 appearances in Scottish football during his time with Hibs and Celtic, who he joined in 2012 from Israeli side Ashdod.
He has Champions League experience from his time at Celtic and won four Scottish Premiership titles, a Scottish Cup and League Cup.
He also won the Scottish Championship with Hibs.