Injured for much of his two and a half years at Pride Park, the striker made just 25 appearances for the Rams and there was little surprise when he was released in the summer of 2011.
Porter moved on to Sheffield United so when Clough made the identical move three weeks ago, the striker – who was on loan at Chesterfield when David Weir’s successor was confirmed – could have been forgiven for fearing the worst.
The Blades manager, however, saw it differently and last week he handed Porter his first start in almost two months as Colchester United were beaten in the FA Cup first round.
Clough said: “We know Chris’s capabilities. It is funny because someone did say, ‘I bet when we came in, we were the last people he wanted to see’. But I thought the opposite.
“He was on loan at Chesterfield but came back and had an opportunity with us straight away. Chris knows how we work and knows that we give everyone a chance.
“We chose not to renew his contract (at Derby). He had a couple of injury problems. There were another couple of reasons, but we don’t hold anything like that against him.
“He was our first signing at Derby. He can finish, he is an honest lad and he is a willing runner.”
Porter has missed a couple of training sessions this week after picking up a knee injury against Colchester. He is, though, expected to be fit to face Gillingham tomorrow as the Blades manager weighs up his striking options after Porter and Shaun Miller combined well in the Cup.
Clough added: “We were impressed with how they linked up at Colchester. Right from early on when Chris got the flick on to Shaun, who was right behind him. That gave us a foundation to build on.
“We are aware that they have both done well together in the past. Chris Morgan has spoken a few times about what happened last season. We have to look at all our possible partnerships, Marlon (King) and Lyle (Taylor), included.
“As for who starts, it is down to who is in form and who has looked fresh in training. Sometimes strikers get tired because they do the most work. Centre-halves don’t work quite as hard as forwards, though I would say that as an ex-forward.”
King did not play at Colchester but has started seven of United’s last eight games. Asked about the former Hull striker, Clough added: “Because of injury, Marlon could not do a pre-season. Once you miss that as a player, you never really catch up. It means you are playing catch-up all season long.”