A midday pitch inspection will decide whether Nigel Clough`s first game as Derby manager goes or ahead or if he`ll have to wait another seven days to make his debut on the bench. An inspiring victory against the world champions in midweek and the new Clough legacy has a smile back on the face of everyone at Pride Park after some worrying times over the festive period.
An interesting first team selection for Clough sees an increase in competition for places now that a number of players frozen out under Jewell are available for selection. You only have to look at the performance of Andy Todd to see the possibilities, having not started a game for Derby since last season and loaned out to Northampton he made a surprise return to the defence and was outstanding in keeping United`s frontline quiet in midweek. Returns to the squad for Dickinson, Savage, Camara and Sterjovski have shown that they do have what it takes to be involved and it`s almost like a number of new signings as they are fresh having not played two games a week for the last couple of months like some in the squad.
Cardiff City are a tough proposition at Ninian Park having not conceded a goal at home for four games and they beat Reading 2-0 in the cup last time out. They currently sit fourth in the table, the best of the rest behind the top three, and have been steadily improving since the 1-1 draw at Pride Park back in September when a Ross McCormack penalty gave the Bluebirds` a share of the spoils. McCormack has set the pace goal scoring wise all season for Cardiff and has fifteen to his name in all competitions, competition for places up front was increased with the return of Michael Chopra on loan from Sunderland and he bagged five goals but was recalled by new manager Ricky Sbragia.
‘It was daunting starting out as people said I was following in my father’s footsteps.
I’ve got used to it over the last 25 years but being at a club where he was so successful – I’m not sure if that will be a help or hindrance.’
Nigel Clough talking to Radio Derby about the legacy of his dad`s time at Derby.
Cardiff City Team News:
New signing Chris Burke will play no part and defender Gabor Gyepes may miss out after suffering a back strain.
Player to watch: Joe Ledley
Playing his 200th game for City, the 21 year-old has built himself a great reputation and has even captained the side in recent weeks. Subject or a reported £6m bid from Stoke earlier in the season his agent has stated he may well see out his contract at his home town club.
Derby County Team News:
Jordan Stewart is still suspended, Martin Albrechtsen may have a fitness test with the knock he picked up at Forest Green and Claude Davis is not fully fit yet. Seb Hines in the squad again.
Player to watch: Kris Commons
Has returned to his early season form in recent weeks and revelled in his free role just behind Hulse against United and scored the winning goal with a superb 30 yard effort that gave Kucszak no chance.
Match Facts & Stats
Last five results
Ipswich Town (A) 2-1 Bothroyd, Gyepes
Sheffield Wednesday (H) 2-0 Johnson, Chopra
Reading (A) 1-1 Chopra
Plymouth Argyle (H) 1-0 Bothroyd
Rading (H) 2-0 McCormack, Ledley
Watford (H) 1-0 Hulse
Preston North End (A) 0-2
Ipswich Town (H) 0-1
Forest Green (A) 4-3 Hulse, Albrechtsen, Green, Davies
Manchester United (H) 1-0 Commons
Nigel Clough`s first game in charge and Derby are on a high after their midweek victory over Manchester United but they face a test against a Cardiff City team unbeaten in eight in all competitions. If the level of effort and performance matched Wednesday then things are looking up but expect this to finish all square at 1-1.
17th Jan v Queens Park Rangers (Coca Cola Championship) Pride Park