Date: 7th August 2009 at 8:21am
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On Saturday, Derby will begin another long hard slog of a Championship season against a newly promoted Peterborough United side, confident after a second successive rise up the football league.

Nigel Clough thinks the fixture has all the makings of a great game but is wary of Darren Ferguson`s Peterborough as the Clough-Ferguson rivalry is ignited once more. Speaking to the official website, he said, “Peterborough will arrive here in great spirits and with confidence sky high; with good reason as well, having enjoyed back to back promotions. Obviously we are more concerned with ourselves and how we are going to line up.”

The Rams will be keen to register a win on the opening day this season having fallen to a defeat last time around versus another newly promoted team; Doncaster. Make no mistake, this is a game that on paper should result in a Derby win, but with the added impetus given to promoted teams to make an instant impact on a new division, it could well prove to be another hard first fixture.

Vital Quotes:

Stephen Davies is looking forward to getting stuck into competitive fixtures after enjoying an excellent pre-season. Nigel Clough has praised the forward’s performances, labelling them outstanding.

Speaking to the official website, Davies said, ‘On a personal level I have never felt fitter or in better physical shape; it`s been a tough pre-season and one where we have all been tested but I think everyone of us is better for it. I’m just really looking forward to Saturday now and getting the season under way.’

In an interview with the DET, number eight Robbie Savage talks of the need for consolidation and a better placed league finish. “This is not a negative thought but if we finish in the top 10 it will be a good season,” said Savage. “Play-offs would be magnificent but it’s OK for West Bromwich Albion to go up and down, they are ready for it. I think if Derby County went up this season, I don’t think we will be ready for it.”

Nigel Clough has real problems with selection, “It`s been well publicised that we have a couple of injury concerns and there are a number of players we won`t make a final decision on until the day of the game itself.”

In comparison with Derby`s injury woes, Darrren Ferguson has the luxury of a nigh on fully fit squad.

It’s been a great pre-season because we’ve only got one injury in Chris Whelpdale,” he said speaking to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

Derby County Team News:

There is undoubtedly a worry for Clough regarding selection, as despite a good break and many players being rested, there are yet more injury worries after the second half of the last campaign was severely disrupted by injuries to key team members. Giles Barnes is expected to become a long-term absentee with a ruptured Achilles tendon, but his injury comes as little surprise to Rams fans that are used to seeing a player blessed with such talent be sidelined for long periods. One has to wonder whether Giles will ever reach the heights it looked like he would as a result of his apparent injury curse.

Other injury news includes Shaun Barker, a summer signing from Blackpool, who is expected not to make the game with a slight thigh strain; frustrating news seeing as he played 42 games in the league last season for his former employers. Jake Buxton may deputise if Barker does fail to prove his fitness. Chris Porter is another player who is definitely not going to feature on Saturday, the £400,000 man from Motherwell undergoing hip surgery to fix a niggling injury which has made his Derby Career stutter.

Nigel Clough has confirmed that he will be out for the next few months. Derby have real worries up front with a Luke Varney illness ruling him out of the Stoke friendly; it remains to be seen whether he will be recover and Rob Hulse is also expected to sit out on Saturday, possibly making the bench after a simple op. Kris Commons and Steve Davies are expected to start. There is some positive news on the injury front, wide man Lee Croft is to return from injury having sustained a twisted knee which ruled him out of Notts County and Stoke friendlies.

Player to watch: Steve Davies

Peterborough United Team News:

Peterborough`s star striker Craig Mackail-Smith who bagged 23 goals last season will be available for United after suffering an outbreak of flu and an injury problem. Derby have been linked with the front man in the past, and he will no doubt be keen to show his former prospective suitors what they missed out on. Peterborough lost their final friendly 2-0 at home to Sunderland, and Darren Ferguson said to the Peterborough Evening Telegraph, “I told all the lads involved to make sure they impressed me to give themselves a chance of being in contention for Derby and they did that on the whole.” He rested a number of his star performers in the clash, so with only on other injury worry, midfielder Chris Whelpdale, his side are likely to be in good condition for the encounter at Pride Park.

Player to watch: Craig Mackail-Smith

Match Facts & Stats

Last 5: Derby County (all fixtures played in Championship)

Watford (a) 1-3
Charlton Athletic (h) 1-0
Reading (h) 0-2
Crystal Palace (a) 0-1
Wolverhampton Wanderers (h) 2-3

Last 5: Peterborough United (all fixtures played in League 1)

Swindon Town (h) 2-2
Colchester United (a) 1-0
Stockport United (h) 1-0
Millwall (a) 0-2
Cheltenham (h) 1-1

Next Fixtures:

Rotherham United vs. Derby County, Tuesday 11th August 2009 19:45, Carling Cup Round 1