After a dismal trip to Cardiff in midweek which resulted in a 6-1 drubbing Derby go into this game against the Owls with 10 first team players injured. To make matters worse three of the injured players are centre backs, which leaves Nigel Clough with not a lot to choose from.
Ideally after such a bad result Nigel Clough would have changed things about and freshened things up but apart from the inclusion of James Vaughan the starting line-up for this game is likely to be the same as those who finished the Cardiff game.
Derby have a good record against Wednesday, they are unbeaten in the last six meetings and have won the last 4 meetings in the league. The two sides have contested 117 games with Derby winning 43, Wednesday winning 41 and 33 games ending in a draw.
Derby have injury worries throughout the squad with 10 first team players unavailable. Amongst the casualties are Miles Addison, Paul Green and Kris Commons who Derby will really miss in this game. Dean Leacock and Jake Buxton may make the squad but they have both been struggling in the past week. Leacock hobbled off in the Cardiff game and Buxton has been absent for 10 days recovering from a hernia operation. Nigel Clough will be hoping that both of them come through fitness tests and make the matchday squad.
Captain Robbie Savage has called for the players to rally after midweek disappointment and repay the fans with a decent performance. Here’s hoping that they do.
Providing Leacock makes it through his fitness test the starting eleven I would like to see is:
Stoor, Barker, Leacock, Moxey
Croft, Savage, Hendrie, Teale
Bench – Deeney, Buxton, McEveley, Mendy, Dickov, Livermore…not sure who else is available!
Derby’s key players:
Shaun Barker – as the most senior centre half who is fit for this game now is time for Barker to show his leadership qualities and marshal the back four, after such a poor second half at Cardiff Derby would really benefit from a clean sheet.
Lee Hendrie – Started his first game on Tuesday and impressed with his distribution and general midfield play. His arrival in the Derby team could really give the midfield some balance and more importantly some control. As an ex-blade there is no doubt he will receive some stick from the away support but that will only drive him to make more of an impact.
Rob Hulse – the striker is Derby’s main goal threat and needs to have the delivery from midfield to make an impact on games. After playing on his own upfront against Cardiff he will benefit from having a partner alongside him.
Nigel Clough really needs a result in this game because after Tuesday night there are some sections of fans that are not convinced that he can turn this club around. Personally I think he needs to be given time and we will get there, this season we have shown glimpses of what we are capable of and changing the manager will just cause problems. The trouble with football fans is that they are impatient; they want success immediately and are not prepared to wait. Derby fans need to remember that we have had seven managers since Jim Smith left eight years ago, which shows that changing your manager doesn’t mean your fortunes will change. Nigel Clough needs to be backed by the fans, the board are already backing him but in order to give him a fighting chance they need to give him money to spend in January to improve the squad because after just 10 games it is already clear that the current squad is just not good enough.
Sheffield Wednesday come to Derby having failed to win in four of their last five games, and a draw in their last league game against Crystal Palace. They currently sit in 13th place in the Championship and will be confident to add to their total of 13 points in this game. Their squad will include two ex rams returning and a current Derby player. Lee Grant and Marcus Tudgay will be returning to Pride Park and will no doubt want to put in a decent performance against their old employers. Current Derby player Luke Varney has been playing well for the Owls in recent weeks, however as he’s on loan from Derby he won’t be playing in this game.
Players to watch out for:
Marcus Tudgay – the former Ram is Wednesday’s main striker and the man they look to for goals. This season his return has been poor but in previous seasons he has scored important goals for the Owls. Over the summer he was subject of transfer speculation linking him with newly promoted Burnley but Tudgay stayed loyal and signed a new contract at Hillsborough instead.
Etienne Esajas – a young Dutch winger who has skill in his boots, very creative with an eye for goal. Has fought his way back into the starting eleven since his impact in the Sheffield derby defeat, rewarded Brian Laws with another goal against Cardiff so must be watched closely by the Derby defence.
Darren Potter – a young central midfielder signed from Wolves in the summer following a successful loan spell at Hillsborough last season, he has made a big impression on the Owls’ midfield.
The referee for this game will be Premiership referee Chris Foy; this will be his first game outside the premiership this season. Mr Foy has given out 19 yellow cards in his seven games this season. I always worry about getting premiership referees as they tend to have poor games and like to be noticed, let’s hope Mr Foy has a good game and doesn’t get talked about after the final whistle.
So both teams are going into this game desperately needing a win, and although Derby have the edge in recent meetings I expect this game to finish a draw. It has the potential to be quite a lively game and I predict a scoring draw, probably 2-2.