A potential fifth round tie at home to Manchester United must be put on the back burner as The Ram`s go in search of vital points as they look to boost their precarious league position. After the disappointment of Nigel Clough`s first game in charge there have been two improved displays with the second half at Old Trafford being followed up with seventy good minutes against Nottingham Forest although the result was not what Derby wanted. Without an away win since early October Clough takes his side to St Andrews` looking to turn around their abysmal away form and start to pull away from the bottom of the table.
Clough has recalled a number of players on the sidelines during Jewell`s spell in charge with Robbie Savage the latest of those given a second chance after starting against Forest on Friday. Another player back in favour could return to the squad after missing the cup clash with Andy Todd back in contention for a place at the back after recovering from a hamstring injury. Steve Davies is also set to return the squad after some impressive displays of late, including against United, after missing out with a groin injury against Forest. The sides drew 1-1 at Pride Park in September with Steve Davies scoring the late equaliser to notch his first goal since his summer switch from Tranmere Rovers.
At one point Birmingham were clear at the top and both they and Wolves set the pace for the majority of the season until Reading claimed 2nd place just before Christmas. City have struggled to find the early season form of late and have not won at home sine early December suffering defeats to both Wolves and Reading and going out of the cup in the process. They currently sit five points clear of Sheffield United in fourth place and only two behind Reading in second although they are twenty-two goals behind in goal difference from Steve Coppell`s side. Alex McLeish has made a number of loan signings to boost his squad with Lee Bowyer, Scott Sinclair a
‘It was a cracking cup tie, but I’m frustrated we didn’t defend our lead better.
Kris Commons had a great chance when he came on and the two headers – we could have walked away with a 2-1 win.”
Nigel Clough talking to Radio Derby about the Forest result.
Birmingham City Team News:
Franck Queudrue and Lee Bowyer should be fit although Stuart Parnaby may face a late fitness test after picking up knocks against Blackpool last time out. James McFadden has recovered from illness.
Player to watch: Kevin Phillips
Leading scorer this season with eleven goals to his name. Not on target since before Christmas and will be desperate to get back in goal scoring form to push City back towards the top two.
Derby County Team News:
Andy Todd and Steve Davies could return after missing the FA Cup Clash with Forest and Jay McEveley could make a surprise return to the squad after recovering from his shoulder injury.
Player to watch: Rob Hulse
Scored last time out against Forest and was only denied a winner by a superb save by Paul Smith, showed his quality if he receives the correct service and always a threat in the air.
Match Facts & Stats
Last five results
Ipswich Town (A) 1-0 McFadden
Swansea City (H) 0-0
Wolverhampton Wanderers (H) 0-2
Cardiff City (H) 1-1 Bowyer
Blackpool (A) 0-2
Forest Green (A) 4-3 Hulse, Albrechtsen, Green, Davies
Manchester United (H) 1-0 Commons
Queens Park Rangers (H) 0-2
Manchester United (A) 2-4 Barnes 2
Nottingham Forest (H) 1-1 Hulse
Birmingham have struggled to win of late but they are still a stiff proposition at home. An improved first half in the cup showed what Derby are capable of and they will take a point home from this encounter, 1-1.
31st Jan v Coventry City (Coca Cola Championship) Pride Park