After a terrific and fully deserved 2-1 away victory over an admittedly under-strength Leeds United at Elland Road on Saturday, The Rams find themselves in altogether less glamorous surroundings at Crewe’s Gresty Road. Some might see the League Cup as an inferior competition, but Nigel Clough will undoubtedly be taking the evening clash very seriously as he looks to maintain the confident mood around the team achieved by the Leeds win.
Crewe began the season with a disappointing 1-0 defeat at home to Hereford. The men in red lost out after missing a whole host of chances and conceding from a corner, but with The Rams’ terrible record in the competition (they have lost five out of their last seven first matches in the competition) who would bet against a home win.
Shaun Barker, fresh from his surprise substitute appearance against Leeds, has called for the Rams to avoid going out to League Two opposition for successive seasons: ‘Last year’s defeat was a shock to the system,’ he told dcfc.co.uk.
‘Maybe we thought we were going to go to Rotherham and roll them over.
‘To be honest, it was a poor performance from us at Rotherham and it was very, very disappointing to go out.
‘After reaching the semi finals the previous season, we knew we had big shoes to fill and it was exceptionally disappointing to go out at that stage and in that fashion.’
Crewe manager Dario Gradi is relishing pitting his wits against many of his former players (five ex-Alex men are current Rams): ‘The tie with Derby is interesting because of the number of our former players potentially coming back here.
‘It has added an extra spice to it and I’m sure everyone is looking forward to seeing them.
‘I saw them play at Leeds on the television after our game and I thought James (Bailey) and John (Brayford) did well on their debuts for the club. I expected them too because they are good players.
‘Rob Hulse is a good player and has become really prolific with his goalscoring. He is a really experienced player now and that is reflected in his play.
‘Robbie (Savage) is a character and is bound to have something to say. I’m sure he will enjoy coming back and seeing some old faces. I will have to make sure that Lee Bell doesn’t mark him because they will spend the entire game chatting. They will never shut up!
‘Varney has been out of favour and hopefully that will be the case on Tuesday! It is bad enough having to face Rob Hulse without Varney running at you as well!’
The Alex Team News:
Dario Gradi is likely to name an unchanged side despite his side slipping to an opening day defeat. Bartek Fogler, a Polish goalkeeper, is sill waiting for international clearance before he can sign a short-term deal. He will not be cleared to face The Rams.
Player to watch: Calvin Zola
Striker Zola, born in the former Republic of Zaire, averages a goal every three games for his club in the league. He is a gangly forward who resembles Paulo Wanchope in some ways.
The Rams Team News:
Nigel CLough will wait on the fitness of central defenders Russell Anderson and Dean Leacock for the Crewe clash after the pair suffered injuries at the weekend. Leacock had a dead calf and Anderson sustained a groin injury, so Shaun Barker is likely to feature, and Jake Buxton could be handed a start if Clough believes he needs to rest others. Paul Green is away on international duty with Ireland for their friendly with Argentina, so Ben Pringle could step in, as could Conor Doyle, to make his fist appearance in competitive English football.
Player to watch: Rob Hulse
One of many players facing their former club against Crewe, Hulse will be looking to net against his old side for the second game running. His goal against Leeds was a fabulous finish, and a sharp Hulse will be more than a match for a League Two defence.
Match Facts & Stats
Leeds United (a) 2-1
Hereford United (h) 0-1
Derby County vs. Cardiff City, Sat 14th August, 3pm, The Championship