There is no rest for the Rams over the busy Easter period and Coventry City are the visitors to Pride Park on Easter Monday (3pm) for another VITAL Championship clash.
The Rams 1-1 draw at Leicester on Friday was somewhat forgotten after Birmingham City shock 0-1 loss at home to lowly Burnley on Saturday, but the Rams still have Sunderland breathing down their necks. It makes the Sky Blues clash even more crucial, and three points is a priority for Billy Davies` side, because a slip up at this time of the season can take away the automatic-promotion spot in an instance.
The Rams welcome back leading scorer Steve Howard back into his squad for today`s game. Howard has completed a two-game ban and Davies is hoping the big striker is raring to go again for the final five games of the season.
Davies said: “Steve has been such a big loss for us so it will be nice to have him back.
“But we’ve now managed to pick up four points away from home without him, our main striker, and we’ve picked up those four from two very difficult away matches.”
The Rams are hoping David Jones and Giles Barnes will recover from knocks they received at the Walkers Stadium, but the Rams boss is confident both will be available.
Jones had been struggling prior to the Leicester clash with a calf injury, and was replaced after 74 minutes on Friday, and Barnes who lasted the full 90, despite picking up an ankle injury shortly before half time.
On the Jones substitution Davies said: “I felt we needed to freshen it up in one or two areas and get a little bit more energy.
“It’s been a long hard season for some of these guys and at Leicester it was hot and sticky out there.
“So it is important we get that squad roation right.”
With Barnes, Davies added: “He’s got a little knock but he should be OK for Monday`s game against Coventry.’
Coventry boss Iain Dowie was at the Walkers Stadium to do some scouting ahead of bringing his side to Pride Park on Monday. Davies said: “He would have seen how difficult it is to play end-of-season games.
“It’s the same for everyone else – on paper it looks easy but there won’t be any easy matches. We all know that every game from now on in will be very tough.”
Coventry who sit in 16th spot in the Championship on 52 points, lost 0-1 at home to relegation threatened Queens Park Rangers on Saturday and coach Dowie was disappointed with the game and hopes his side can lift for a big game at Pride Park. He said: “It’s not like QPR dominated a game. They’re scrapping for their lives and they scrapped out a win. The worst case scenario should have been a draw.
“Our keeper made a couple of saves and they still had chance to whack the ball in. There were a couple of moments in our defence that we’re not all about.
“We’ve got to put this to bed and move on. We’ve got a massive game away on Monday and I want us to start picking up some points on the road. We have to put it right and against Billy Davies’ side that will be really tough. We know it’s a tough task but it’s one we are looking forward to.”
The Coventry City team in the QPR match was –
GK Marshall, Virgo, Hawkins (Page 63), Ward, Hall, Whing (McKenzie 54), Hughes, Doyle, Fadiga, Adebola, Mifsud (Kyle 69).
Subs Not Used: Steele, Cameron.
Derby County Team News:
The Rams welcome back top scorer Steve Howard after a two-match suspension, but midfielder Steven Pearson is still doubtful because of the foot injury that has kept him out of the Rams’ last seven games. Giles Barnes and David Jones have slight injuries but should be fit for the clash
Player to watch: Steve Howard
The Rams big striker will be fresh after his two game lay off and will be hungry for goals. If the service from the flanks is good Howard will be a great danger to the Sky Blues defence.
Coventry City Team News:
Coventry boss Iain Dowie only has injuries to David McNamee and Don Hutchison. Stephen Hughes and Colin Hawkins have slight knocks after the QPR clash but both should be fit. Dowie could also hand a recall to forward Kevin Kyle, who was a substitute in Saturday’s defeat by Rangers.
Player to watch: Dele Adebola
The Coventry striker seems to like Pride Park and has scored on his last two visits there. The Nigerian has scored eight times for the Sky Blues and is their top goal scorer this season. He will have to be marked tightly by either Dean Leacock or Darren Moore if the trend is not to continue.
Last time we met at Pride Park
14th September 2005 Derby 1 Coventry 1
The Rams were involved in another draw, the fifth in eight Championship outings, left Derby County frustrated again against Coventry City.
Morten Bisgaard’s early strike after 14 minutes found the net courtesy of a deflection as the Rams were quick out of the traps. But another soft goal conceded cost them dearly, they were pegged back by Dele Adebola’s equaliser just short of the hour mark and Coventry City left Pride Park with a point.
Derby County: Camp, S Johnson, M Johnson, Kenna, Edworthy, Smith, Bolder, Idiakez, Thirlwell, Bisgaard, Tudgay
Subs: Fadiga (for Thirlwell, 66), Holdsworth (for Tudgay, 73), Peschisolido (for Edworthy, 89), Nyatanga, Poole (gk).
Coventry City: Bywater, Duffy, Shaw, Heath, Hall, Flood, Doyle, Jorgensen, McSheffrey, Scowcroft, Adebola
Subs: Whing (for Shaw, 37), Morrell (for Flood, 46), Wood (for Heath, 59), Hughes, Ince (gk).
Last five Rams v Sky Blues games at Pride Park
14th September 2005
Derby 1 – Bisgaard
Coventry 1 – Adebola
4th December 2004
Derby 2 – Rasiak, Peschisolido
Coventry 2 – Hughes, Adebola
25th October 2003
Derby 1 – Holmes
Coventry 3 – Warnock, Suffo (2)
19th April 2003
Derby 1 – Ravanelli
16th December 2000
Derby 1 – Christie
Simmo`s Prediction – A huge game for Billy Davies side – I`ll go –
Derby County 3 Coventry City 1