The phrase ‘must win’ and ‘home game’ appearing in the same sentence is an all too familiar sight for Rams fans this season. Derby’s form at Pride Park is of play-off standard, but the failure to pick up a single win on the road is a huge cause for concern and means the onus is on the players to perform on home soil.
Reading visit the home of The Rams in an attempt to avoid defeat for the fourth game in a row. The Royals enjoyed their first home win in 11 months as they triumphed over Blackpool at the weekend and confidence will be high as a result.
To keep the good home going by beating Reading, Nigel Clough’s side will need to score against a defence they haven’t breached for five games, and keep solid at the other end, having conceded 15 goals in five games against The Royals.
Speaking to the official club website about the Reading game, Gary Teale refuses to believe the game is a must win ‘People are saying it is a six-pointer, but it is still really early in the season and a little too early to be talking about that,’ he said,’The fact is we’re at home and it is an opportunity to pull away from Reading, and hopefully by taking the game to Reading we can get the three points. We can’t put our finger in the contrast in fortunes between our home and away form, but with 30,000 behind you it doesn’t do anything but help you get on the front-foot.’
Royals winger Jobi McAnuff sees the experience in the Derby squad and the Rams fans as a threat: ‘They’ve got a lot of old, experienced heads in the team that know how to get results so we know we’ll have to be at our best,’ he said, ‘They have great fans up there and that’s one thing that we’re going to have to do, start well to quieten them down a bit. Every game is tough but the ones against the sides around us are the ones that give us a chance to move up the table.’
Derby County Team News:
Stephen Pearson could return to the side having missed the Swansea defeat with a groin injury. Paul Connolly has an injured hip but would have missed out with suspension anyway. Jay McEvely, Miles Addison, Lee Hendrie and Lee Croft are in contention but Kris Commons and Steve Davies are still out. Recently signed striker DJ Campbell is in line to appear, and The Rams will almost certainly partner either him or fellow Leicester City loanee Paul Dickov with Rob Hulse, the only of our three fit strikers who doesn’t play for our East Midlands rivals.
Player to watch: Shaun Barker
Centre-half Barker will need to be in good form to keep ex-Ram Rasiak at bay. Rasiak scored the winner against Blackpool on Saturday but Barker has been in good form and should be able to deal with the big Pole if he continues.
Reading Team News:
Shane Long and Chris Armstrong are pressing for an appearance. Striker Long had an ankle injury which has cleared up and Armstrong has not featured this season after undergoing a knee operation. Stiker Noel Hunt is still out but fellow front-man Simon Church may be available following an injury.
Player to watch: Jobi McAnuff
The tricky winger has a cultured right foot and a bit of pace which enables him to beat his full-backs when on form. Whether Jay McEvely or Dean Moxey starts at left back on Saturday, there will be a challenge for them to face.
Match Facts & Stats
Last 5: Derby County
Swansea City (a) 0-1
Coventry City (h) 2-1
Ipswich Town (a) 0-1
QPR (h) 2-4
Middlesbrough (a) 0-2
Last 5: Reading
Blackpool (h) 2-1
Ipswich Town (h) 1-1
Coventry City (a) 3-1
Leicester City (h) 0-1
QPR (a) 1-4
Derby County vs. Reading, Saturday 28 November 2009 15:00, The Coca-Cola Football League Championship