Well the games keep coming thick and fast, this could be good for Derby as they are currently on a run of three straight defeats so the more games the more chance to change our fortunes. Over the past weeks a Derby have defended badly and suffered from a serious lack of creativity.
The Rams go into this game with good and bad news, on the positive side Dean Leacock came through an hour of a reserve match against Burton on Wednesday night and continues to push for a starting place, new signing James Vaughan goes straight into the squad and Rob Hulse has fully recovered from a bout of illness.
Unfortunately there are five first team players unavailable to Nigel Clough; Paul Green is out with an injured foot, Jake Buxton is suffering from a hernia, Steven Davies has an injured x and Chris Porter is recovering from hip surgery Giles Barnes is a long term casualty with a knee injury.
Derby showed a bit more attacking guile against Barnsley but lacked the killer touch to finish them off, away from home Derby need to be harder to break down so I would include Lee Hendrie for his first start to add a bit more bite to the centre of the midfield. Lee Croft delivered much better crosses in the week so he should keep his place and Stephen Pearson will provide a bit more pace and more of a willingness to track back compared to Gary Teale. The defence is under constant scrutiny but the only way they will improve is by playing with each other regularly, consistency is the key so I would keep the same back four as Tuesday night. Kris Commons needs to play to give us that creativity and every side need a match winner which he is. Rob Hulse continues to be the only option up front although the arrival of James Vaughan on loan from Everton will help improve our attacking choices. I would give Vaughan at least 30 minutes upfront with Hulse, maybe take Hendrie off, and push Pearson inside and Commons on the left wing.
So my starting XI for this game would be:
Connolly; Barker; Addison; Moxey
Croft; Savage; Hendrie; Pearson
Bench – Deeney, Vaughan, Livermore, Dickov, Leacock, McEveley, Teale
Players to watch for Palace:
Victor Moses – a young striker who has come up through the ranks at Selhurst Park, he is an England U21 international and a player with a lot of natural ability which could cause the Derby defence some serious problems.
Darren Ambrose – a bit of a journeyman but someone who always shows glimpses of his talent. Has the potential to really hurt Derby from midfield. Started the season well but has gone off in recent weeks.
Claude Davies – the big Jamaican is suffering with a hamstring problem but I am in no doubt that if he plays he will have a fantastic game, however having watched him “play” for Derby for two seasons I think we can be confident that he would give us a least one or two chances during the game.
Derby have a poor record away from home, one point on their travels so far this season and not the greatest record last season prove this. They will need to dig deep to keep Palace at bay as they are coming off the back of a 0-4 drubbing last weekend against Scunthorpe. That could have two effects on the Eagles, they will either come out flying at Derby to put the Scunthorpe game firmly in the past or they will be nervous and tentative because they don’t want a repeat performance. It’s a cliché used often in football but the first goal will be crucial, I just hope Derby get it.