The Rams face Doncaster Rovers in this year’s Boxing Day clash as they look to put an end to a run which has seen them lose four games on the trot.
An excellent performance against Reading at the weekend looked certain to yield three points, but Derby came away with nothing after defensive lapses and an inspired goalkeeper thwarted them. At the moment, Nigel Clough’s side are putting in good performances but not getting the rewards, so hopefully this will change over the congested Christmas period.
Ex-Donny man Paul Green has bad memories of his first match in a Derby shirt, which was against his former club: ‘Obviously, I know all about Doncaster and how they play,’ said Yorkshire-born Green, who made more than 250 appearances for Rovers.
‘The first season they came to Pride Park after my move, we had a new team that had never played with each other – and it showed.
‘But we played some good stuff at their place this season and really deserved the win.’
Doncaster’s midfielder Mark Wilson seems confident of his side’s chances of reaching the play-offs. When asked if his side could make it, he answered: ‘Why not? Our squad is
ertainly good enough.
‘Our goal is to be in the pack and within touching distance (by Christmas), to be honest. It’s then important you go out of the Christmas and new year period with a bit of momentum.
‘We’re on target. You can say the last few seasons, we’ve looked to consolidate and not get relegated.
‘But you look at the squad of players we have, and the talent we have in the team, and it (the play-offs) has to be the target.’
The Rams Team News:
Robbie Savage is suspended for the Boxing Day match, but James Bailey should be fit enough to take up one of the two defensive midfield slots. Stephen Pearson and Paul Green are candidates for the other. Dean Leacock also looks likely to miss out after being subbed against Reading with a groin injury.
Player to watch: Paul Green
Ex-Rovers man Green has been poor on occasions against his old side, but he was excellent in the 3-2 win against Doncaster earlier in the season.
The Rovers Team News:
Joe Mills, the 21-year-old defender on loan from League One Southampton, may feature after recovering from an ankle injury. James O’Connor may feature having returned from injury himself.
illy Sharp and James Hayter look set to partner each other upfront, meaning David Healy will look on from the bench.
Player to watch: Billy Sharp
Striker Sharp has been in decent for this season and is a consistent goal-getter at this level. He does tend to hit the deck very easily when he reaches the penalty area.
Match Facts & Stats
Scunthorpe United (h) 3-2
Norwich City (h) 1-2
Bristol City (a) 0-2
Reading (h) 1-2
Portsmouth (a) 3-2
Swansea City (h) 1-1
Crystal Palace (a) 0-1
Leicester City (a) 1-5
Middlesbrough (h) 2-1
Nottingham Forest vs. Derby County, Wed 29th December, 15:00pm, The Championship