Derby begin the 2010/11 season with a hotly-anticipated clash with old enemies Leeds United. The match, which is to be televised on BBC One, sees a return to The Championship for Yorkshire giants Leeds who haven’t played a fixture at this level since a 2-0 defeat against The Rams on the final day of the 2006/07 season. Rams manager Nigel Clough will be up against the side who his father famously managed for 44 days in an ill-fated spell, and will pit his wits against Simon Grayson, former Blackpool manager, who guided them to promotion from League One as runners up behind Norwich City last season.
Nigel Clough is desperate to see his side’s good pre-season form translate into important points when it actually matters: ‘Our preparations have gone very well,’ said Clough, speaking to the official club website.
‘I have no complaints at all, the lads have been working very hard and the quality in the games has been good.
‘There’s still plenty to go at, and playing two Premier League sides last week (Stoke and Birmingham) was a big benefit for us.
‘We have worked towards Leeds, but obviously our preparations are tailored towards 46 games.
‘The players have applied themselves very well and we’re ready to go.’
Dean Leacock is eager to repay the club for sticking by him during his last two seasons, which have been decimated by injuries: ‘I hope I can repay the gaffers faith in me.
‘He has stuck by me when he could have easily let me go.
‘I owe him, the fans and the club and I want to do that on the pitch.
‘This is the first time in a long time I have completed a pre-season.
‘I hope that can work in my favour and I can start all guns blazing.’
United boss Simon Grayson is eager to take his club back to the Premier League: ‘The expectancy comes from within,’ he said, in conversation with the official Leeds website. ‘We have an expectancy level and what I demand in terms of work-rate, performance, and what we want to achieve.
‘We are playing with less pressure in some respects having had that expectancy of promotion in League One, but believe me the presure is still there to push on to the next level.
‘You can’t stand still, we’re pushing every week to get back where this club deserves, and if it doesn’t happen this year we will try again next year.’
Ex-Rams full-back Paul Connolly is eager to prove a point against his former club as Nigel Clough deemed him surplus to requirements at Pride Park: ‘You see it where players come up against their old club and have a stinker, but I’m determined not to let that happen.’
The Whites Team News:
Robert Snodgrass, Leeds’ influential Scottish midfielder, is set to miss out with Arsenal loanee Sanchez Watt set to step in. Patrick Kisnorbo, a trialist with The Rams twelve months ago, is also injured, as is new signing Billy Paynter, half of the Paynter-Austin forward-line which terrorised League One defences last year for Swindon Town.
Player to watch: Luciano Becchio
Argentinian Becchio’s goals have been extremely valuable for Leeds over the last two seasons. He notched 17 last season and was particularly good towards the end of the season just when Leeds needed him to be firing on all cylinders with former strike-partner Jermaine Beckford out of form.
The Rams Team News:
Nigel Clough has no new injury worries going into the Elland Road clash. Defensive trio Dean Leacock, Russell Anderson and Gareth Roberts all received knocks during the Birmingham City game but should all be fit to participate. Shaun Barker and Miles Addison are also defensive casualties, although Barker should not be out for too much longer. Addison however, is unlikely to feature for many months as is striker Steven Davies. Stephen Pearson completes the injury list, and is expected to miss the first few weeks of the campaign.
Nigel Clough must make a choice between Rob Hulse and Chris Porter to suit the 4-2-3-1 formation The Rams will be playing this season. John Brayford, James Bailey and Gareth Roberts will all make their debuts and Conor Doyle may feature after signing a two-year deal having impressed as a trialist during pre-season.
Player to watch: Kris Commons
Attacking player Commons has been in scintillating form pre-season and will be high on confidence after completing his first full pre-season in three attempts at Pride Park. Leeds will be worried about facing him.
Match Facts & Stats
Pre Season results (first team):
Burton Albion (a) 1-0
Southend United (a) 1-1
Bournemouth (a) 3-3
Chesterfield (a) 5-4
Stoke City (h) 1-0
Birmingham City (h) 1-2
MFK Ruzomberok (a) 0-1
MFK Kosice (a) 1-0
Bury (a) 0-4
Hartlepool United (a) 5-0
Wolverhampton Wanderers (h) 3-1
Wakefield FC (a) 5-0
Crewe Alexandra vs. Derby County, Tue 10th August, 19:45pm, The League Cup