The name of the Chelsea star still dominates discussions around the Ghana camp and Derek is one of two Boatengs looking to fill that void alongside Portsmouth midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng. The intensity has been clear to see in training sessions and Derek who burst onto the scene well before Essien is hoping he can am it his own. "The manager is watching and we all have to prove we deserve a place in the team that starts on Sunday," he told KickOffGhana.com. "It means we must keep an attitude in training that shows what we can do on the pitch." Boateng comes off a fine season in Spain and while he admits Essien's are huge shoes to fill, he is in no doubt he can do it.
"My confidence is good so I have no worries. When you lose a player like Essien, you lose a big part of the team and all he brings but it is up to the rest of us to show we can do well without him now."
Ghana open their campaign against Serbia in Pretoria on Sunday.