After four games without a win Derby are going into this game aiming to get their season back on track with a victory over Bristol City.
Derby will definitely be without Paul Green who had another operation on his foot this week and he will continue to be missed in the centre of midfield. There is good news on the injury front, after picking up knocks against Crystal Palace last weekend Dean Leacock, Kris Commons, Rob Hulse and James Vaughan are all expected to be fit for this game.
After their recent poor run of fun the Rams have dropped down the league and are currently sitting in 17th place in the Championship table. There is bound to be nervousness from the team and the fans going into this game but there have been positive signs despite the lack of victories. Derby have played good football in every game but they just haven’t had the killer touch, something that the Derby faithful will be hoping they get back for this game.
It’s unlikely that Nigel Clough will make any changes to his starting eleven as he has stated in the media this week that he is looking to get some consistency in his side, so with that in mind I would expect to see the following starting line-up:
Connolly, Leacock, Addison, Moxey
Croft, Savage, Pearson, Commons
Bench: Teale, Barker, Hendrie, McEveley, Deeney, Livermore, Dickov
Bristol City come into this game in 10th place in the table, they are unbeaten in their last four league games although they have won only one of those games. In fact City are still looking to win their first away game of the season. The Robins’ away record in recent times hasn’t been good, only claiming three points out of the last possible 30 away from home, with three draws and seven defeats since winning at Reading on 21 February.
Bristol may have struggled away from home recently but they still have some talented players within their ranks, here are my three to watch:
Nicky Maynard – the ex-Crewe striker is in good form this season scoring 5 goals in 7 league appearances, he has pace to burn which could cause the Derby defence problems.
Paul Hartley – this ex-Celtic midfielder joined the City during the summer on a free transfer and has added some much needed top level experience to their squad.
Lewin Nyatanga – the former Derby defender moved to Ashton Gate in July and will be looking to come back and prove something to Nigel Clough. Nyatanga is a talented centre half who can play the ball out of defence comfortably, he does however have his weaknesses and Derby should be well aware of them and look to exploit them.
The referee this week is Mr Mick Russell from Hertforshire. Mr Russell has officiated in 10 games so far this season, handing 22 yellows and one red card. It will be the first time he has officiated either team this season, the last time he took charge of a Derby game was for the Rams’ 2-0 defeat at Ipswich last season.
The two sides have met in the league 48 times with Derby having the better record, winning 27 to Bristol’s 11. Last seasons meetings were the first time the two clubs had met in 13 years, Derby were victorious at Pride Park and it was a draw at Ashton Gate.
Derby’s wretched run of form means that Bristol should be favourites for this game, here’s hoping we can turn around our bad luck and get something from the game. The stats are in Derby’s favour as they have won the last three meetings at home however I think a 1-1 draw is a reasonable prediction for this one.