There`s never a dull moment to be had at Pride Park, having plummeted out of the Premiership in record breaking style Paul Jewell promised to repay the pain with promotion this season and after a poor start made way for a run of results it seemed the former Wigan man had started to turn round The Ram`s fortunes. However, a downturn in both performances and results lead to the Liverpudlian resigning as he felt he wasn`t the man for the job and Derby head into the new year without a manager and an amazing contrast in their first two games. Before the visit of world champions Manchester United on Wednesday comes this FA Cup Third Round clash against non-league Forest Green Rovers at The New Lawn.
Chris Hutchings is in temporary charge and has been in this position before having followed Jewell as manager of Bradford City and Wigan Athletic following previous departures. He will have a tough task ahead as this looks like a potential banana skin in the making even if his side were in form. Hutchings has options with the return of loanees Beardlsey and Hanson from Notts County and the return to the squad of Robbie Savage, Mo Camara and Liam Dickinson. It could be a different looking Derby side for his first game in charge as The Rams look to arrest their recent slide in form.
Forest Green are competing in the third round of the FA Cup for the first time in their 118-year existence and this clash has completely sold out although the non-leaguers may have been hoping for some TV coverage to further swell the coffers. Rovers currently sit fifth from bottom in the Blue Square Premiership 76 places below their opponents and have won six of the last nine in all competitions. Forest Green have claimed a league scalp already this season after putting out Rochdale in the 2nd Round to set up this encounter.
‘I don’t want him to go but I’m a realist.
‘If he’s asked to go to Derby or anywhere else and he wants to take it then he’ll go with my blessing and my best wishes.’
Burton Albion chairman Ben Robinson talking to Radio Derby about rumoured interest from Derby in manager Nigel Clough.
Forest Green Rovers Team News:
Alex Lawless is back to full fitness and will continue in midfield and there are no new injury worries for Jim Harvey ahead of this clash.
Player to watch: Kaid Mohammed
Striker or midfielder who made his name in the Welsh League before being taken to Swindon by then manager Paul Sturrock. Found his opportunities limited and spent time at Torquay before joining Forest Green in the summer. Has pace to burn and has been leading scorer in Rovers` cup run with three goals so far.
Derby County Team News:
Jason Beardsley and Mitch Hanson have been recalled from their loan spells at Notts County and Robbie Savage and Mo Camara have also been recalled to the squad as Hutchings defensive options are narrowed with the suspension of Jordan Stewart and the return to West Ham of James Tomkins.
Player to watch: Paul Green
Returning to full fitness after his hand injury and exactly the type of player needed to take the battle to Forest Green in this cup tie. Hasn`t found the net for a while and a goal in this one could prove vital.
Match Facts & Stats
Last five results
Forest Green Rovers
Ebbsfleet United (A) 1-0 Smith
Hemel Hempstead (H) 5-1 McDonald 2, Mangan, Clist, Fowler
Kettering Town (H)0-2
Kidderminster Harriers (A) 1-1 Bartlett (og)
Barrow (H) 2-1 Rigoglioso, Mangan
Wolverhampton Wanderers (A) 0-3
Charlton Athletic (A) 2-2 Ellington (2)
Watford (H) 1-0 Hulse
Preston North End (A) 0-2
Ipswich Town (H) 0-1
A temporary manager and a tricky looking cup-tie, this could be a long afternoon for Derby fans as they look for a ray of hope in the first game of 2009. No doubt Forest Green will give them a scare but The Rams will have too much (only just) for their non-league opponents and take this 2-1.
7th Jan v Manchester United (Carling Cup Semi-Final) Pride Park