Results on Easter Monday mean The Rams go to Selhurst Park still in need of a couple more points to mathematically secure their Championship survival. After some great football saw them lead Premiership bound Wolves 2-1 midway through the second half the defensive frailties reared their head again to leave them as 3-2 losers in a game they could well have been out of site in. Results from other teams below them mean the gap closed to five points with a handful of games to go.
Nigel Clough was critical of his defence on the day saying that his side didn`t deserve to win with some of the things they were doing and the players certainly played a part in their own downfall with all three goals looking preventable. Some of the attacking football at times tore Wolves to pieces and only a couple of last ditch clearances and smart saves from Hennessy in the visitors goal kept them in it. Jay McEveley has been ruled out for the season with the dreaded metatarsal injury after going off in that match and Lewin Nyatanga may come in at left back. Stephen Pearson returns to the squad after missing out on Monday and he will be in contention, along with Przemyslaw Kazmierczak, for a starting spot alongside Robbie Savage in the middle of the park.
Crystal Palace sit one place inside the bottom half in thirteenth with little to play for, they cannot reach the play-offs and although not mathematically safe it would take a lot of strange results for them to end up in the bottom three. They have lost their last two encounters, 2-0 at home to Cardiff City before giving Southampton hope in their relegation battle with a 1-0 reversal on Bank Holiday Monday. Without a win in six it looks as though Neil Warnock`s side are looking forward to the summer after what looked like a promising season at one point but with some highly rated youngsters they appear to be a side with a lot of potential.
‘It will be players who want to do the right things, want to do the things they are asked to do and who have a little understanding and thought about the game.”
‘Players sometimes think they know better.’
Nigel Clough talking to the Radio Derby about his plans for his squad next season.
Crystal Palace Team News:
Claude Davies is not allowed to face the club who allowed him to join Crystal Palace on loan whilst Shaun Derry is out for the season. Paul Ifill and Sean Scannell look set to miss out whilst John Oster and Neil Danns are doubts.
Player to watch: Shefki Kuqi
Big strong Finn who always seems to benefit playing against Derby`s back line. Leading scorer so far this season with nine league goals including the winner at Pride Park last December.
Derby County Team News:
Jay McEveley ruled out for the season with a metatarsal injury. Stephen Pearson should return to the squad after missing out on Monday and there may be a late fitness test for Przemyslaw Kazmierczak after his dead leg on Monday.
Player to watch: Rob Hulse
Has put in the work in the last few games and must be due a break to add to his team leading seventeen goals this season, will be glad to see a return to form by Commons who he forms a formidable partnership with up front for The Rams.
Match Facts & Stats
Last five results
Reading (H) 0-0
Queens Park Rangers (A) 0-0
Coventry City (H) 1-1 Cadogan
Cardiff City (H) 0-2
Southampton (A) 0-1
Sheffield United (A) 2-4 Hulse, Bannan
Barnsley (H) 0-0
Burnley (H) 1-1 Connolly
Cardiff City (A) 1-4 Johnson (og)
Wolverhampton Wanderers (H) 2-3 Kazmierczak, Sterjovski
If The Rams can tighten up at the back they could take something here with more to play for than their South London hosts. Don`t expect a thriller though as the sides play out a 1-1 draw.
21st April v Reading (Coca Cola Championship) Pride Park