Cocu insists Lawrence and Bennett not ‘off the hook’ despite facing Barnsley
The duo returned to the Derby squad after being charged with drink-driving in the city on September 24.
Phillip Cocu insisted Tom Lawrence and Mason Bennett were not “off the hook” after both played in Derby’s 2-2 draw at Barnsley.
Lawrence was included from the start at Oakwell, while Bennett was brought off the bench in the closing stages.
The duo were charged with drink-driving following an incident in the Allestree area of the city on September 24.
The crash followed a team-building dinner, and Derby – who have lost captain Richard Keogh for more than a year due to a knee injury sustained on the same night – have said there will be a “rigorous internal investigation”.
Cocu said: “In the end the players have to have the possibility to give something back to the club and the fans on the pitch.
“That’s the only podium they have to give a response and it still doesn’t change the fact of what we said as a club. That will definitely happen, so they are not off the hook.
“But also they are part of our team and the club and we have to give them the possibility to give a good response.
“They are affected by it very much. I spoke the last few days a lot with the players and they were eager to go and play.”
Pressed on whether the decision to involve Lawrence and Bennett and been his alone or made following conversations with others at the club, Cocu said: “Does it change anything?
“We’ve spoken a lot over the last week, but it was my decision.”
Aapo Halme gave Barnsley a 13th-minute lead before Chris Martin’s third goal in as many matches pulled the Rams level after 34 minutes.
Tom Huddlestone fired Derby in front from the spot in the closing stages of the half after Lawrence was brought down by Mads Andersen.
But Cauley Woodrow popped up with the equaliser in stoppage time to earn the lowly hosts a valuable point.
Huddlestone appeared to pick up an injury in scoring Derby’s second, with Cocu adding: “He felt something in his hamstring, so we will examine him probably Friday.
“I hope it’s a minor problem and maybe he can be available after the international break. If not, he might be out for quite some time.”
Barnsley boss Daniel Stendel hopes the late leveller can be a turning point for his side, who have not won since their opening game of the season.
“I hope so, maybe this is the one moment that we need to turn the results and I hope on Saturday in Preston that we can do it,” he said.
“For the team, for the players and for us and also for our supporters, it was a great moment to score in the last minute. I think we deserved this point.”