After a disappointing opening to the Nigel Clough era on Saturday Derby County go into two cup ties in four days that could boost them for a run of league games vital to their Championship survival. Before the return of a certain Scottish gentleman with his new Forest team on Friday comes the small matter of semi-final second leg against Manchester United at Old Trafford. After a rousing performance in the first leg The Ram`s go into this match with a narrow advantage thanks to a superb Kris Commons strike and the new manager thinks his side can pull off a shock and reach Wembley for the first time since the play-off final backed by a potential record away following of 12,000 fans.
Clough was scathing in his assessment of the defeat against Queens Park Rangers saying that players at Burton were better at the basics compared to the performance put out by his side on Saturday. There may be changes in the side for this encounter and Paul Connolly and Jordan Stewart return from suspension to be included in the squad in positions Derby looked suspect in at the weekend. Kris Commons playing centrally in the first leg to great effect and Steve Davies caused problems all night down the left and it`ll be interesting to see if the formation reverts to the one that was so successful just under two weeks ago giving Derby a slender first leg advantage.
Since the first leg at Pride Park Manchester United have taken over at the top of the Premiership and are currently on a run of ten games without conceding in the league leaving Derby as the only domestic side to score against the world champions since the start of December when Blackburn scored three in a 5-3 reverse at Old Trafford in the Carling Cup. Alex Ferguson looks set to give a debut to reported £8m signing Zoran Tosic as the youngster has made quicker progress than expected since signing from Partizan Belgrade and has pledged to keep faith with the young side that got his side to this stage of the comp
‘There were things going on – we have come from dealing with players three or four leagues down – basic things, that lads at the level we used to be at were better at.
There wasn’t a spark out there and defensively the two goals were very poor from our point of view. I’ve been in a state of shock for the last 48 hours.’
igel Clough talking to Radio Derby about Saturday`s performance.
Manchester United Team News:
Alex Ferguson looks set to name a young side with a possible debut for new signing Zoran Tosic and Darron Gibson, Rafael and Danny Wellbeck also expected to start. Regular first teamers may make up the bench as at Pride Park.
Player to watch: Darron Gibson
Show some quality at Pride Park in the first leg when given the opportunity and the Irish youngster has already bagged his first senior goal in the FA Cup at St Mary`s earlier this month. Given more time on the ball, as he surely will in the second leg, he could be a danger for the Derby defence.
Derby County Team News:
Paul Connolly and Jordan Stewart return to the squad after suspension but Nathan Ellington is set to miss out with his hamstring injury. Claude Davis has returned to training and may return to the bench.
Player to watch: Paul Green
Had a storming game in the first leg helping to keep the United midfield quiet and showed real quality on the ball to keep his side going forward. Will be an important player if his side are to hold out and pull off a shock.
Match Facts & Stats
Last five results
Southampton (A) 3-0 Wellbeck, Nani, Gibson
Derby County (A) 0-1
Chelsea (H) 3-0 Vidic, Rooney, Berbatov
Wigan Athletic (H) 1-0 Rooney
Bolton Wanderers (A) 1-0 Berbatov
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
Queens Park Rangers (H) 0-2
After the way the season has gone in recent weeks who`d think that Derby would be 90 minutes from Wembley? A massive following at Old Trafford and a one goal advantage puts The Ram`s in with a chance and the heart believes they can do it, unfortunately the head says United will have just to much and take this 2-0.
23rd Jan v Nottingham Forest (FA Cup Round 4) Pride Park