A game against a side third from the bottom of the Championship, on paper looks like a three point certainty for the Rams. But the side leading the league by six-points can`t take anyone for granted in this competition, and I`m sure Billy Davies has been telling the players that all week. It`s classic cliché, but the game is a potential ‘Banana skin` for the Rams, and with the Tigers coach, Phil Brown making his return to the club that sacked him last season, it has all the ingredients for a tasty contest.
The Tigers currently sit in the relegation zone in 21st position and will need to start getting some results or it will be league one football next season. On the road they have won only three games this season, against Leicester City 1-0, Southend 3-2 and Sheffield Wednesday 2-1. They have drawn eight this season and lost six. Their problem seems to be scoring goals, as they have only scored nine goals away from home and conceded 21. The Rams won the away game at the KC Stadium 2-1 early in the season and they will hope for three points tomorrow to continue the lead at the top of the table. Former Rams player Ian Ashbee could be in the Tigers side this weekend, although he may miss out due to injury. He was a trainee from 1994 -96, and made only one appearance for the Rams in 1995 against Southend United. Their last game was a 0-1 home loss to West Bromwich Albion. The Tigers team for that match was:
GK Boaz Myhill; Sam Ricketts, Michael Turner, Damien Delaney, Andy Dawson; Dean Marney, Ian Ashbee [captain], David Livermore; Nicky Forster, Dean Windass, Jon Parkin
Subs; Matt Duke, Danny Coles, Ryan France, Stuart Elliott, Michael Bridges
The Rams have had players away on international duty this week, and this not an ideal preparation for the clash, but Davies will hope there are no injury concerns. Both Stephan Pearson and new Rams signing James McEveley played full games for Scotland B in a 2-2 draw against Finland on Wednesday. Lewin Nyata
Derby manager Billy Davies believes another 15 points will guarantee The Rams at least a play-off place at the end of the season. They currently top the Coca-Cola Championship table, six points clear of closest challengers Preston with 15 games of the regular season remaining. Davies has banned the ‘P` word from the dressing, it`s a pity he didn`t ban the ‘F` word as well, but I digress. He has tried to keep the players focused on one game at a time and he hopes the season`s form continues. Davies said: ‘With 15 games remaining I would say we need four or five more wins to make sure we are in the play-offs and you have to say that is achievable.
‘It will be disappointing if we do not at least make the play-offs. Whether we finish first or second for automatic promotion is another matter.
‘But our next two away games in the league are at Sunderland and then at Birmingham so we can’t afford to count on anything yet.’
Phil Brown – On the return of striker Stephen McPhee.
The Tigers have been struggling for goals and Brown believes McPhee could provide that extra bit of spark in attack.
‘All of my strikers have got plusses and minuses and all bring their own individual attributes to the party,’ Brown said. ‘But Stephen is slightly unique and is just a little bit different to the rest of the strikers.
‘He’s tenacious, he’s confident and he’s got plenty of tricks. He has pace and the ability to get behind defenders, which makes him a very attractive player for any manager to call on.’
Jon Parkin on the Pride Park trip –
He said: ‘Phil has come to Hull and installed a lot of confidence in the lads, which was probably lacking beforehand.
‘We’ve had two bad results now against Leeds and West Brom, so we need to pick up points on Saturday at Derby.
‘Obviously it didn’t work out for Phil at Derby, just like it didn’t work out too well for Phil Parkinson here at Hull. These things happen in football, but he’s a big character and we all respect what he’s trying to do here.’
Derby County Team News:
The Rams will be without forward Craig Fagan, who begins a two-match ban for picking up his tenth yellow card of the season for kicking the ball away.
He was ineligible to play in the game anyway due to an agreement between the two clubs when Fagan joined Derby in January.
A part from that, boss Billy Davies has a full squad to choose from, only Paul Boertien sits on the sidelines through his knee injury. Jay McEveley will hope to press for a starting berth, also Tyrone Mears and Jon Macken, after arriving late in the transfer window.
Player to watch: Gary Teale
The Scotsman`s is enjoying life at Pride Park, and his pace down the flanks and pin-point crosses will give Steve Howard the ammunition to find the net. He will have to be closed down quickly by the Tigers defence.
Hull City Team News:
The Tigers have been dealt a blow this week with the news that the versatile Ryan France has been ruled out with a serious knee ligament injury.
Midfielder Dean Marney is also unlikely to feature after coming off during their weekend defeat to West Brom with a thigh strain and a dislocated shoulder, and former Ram Ian Ashbee is struggling too. Good news for Phil Brown is that Stephen McPhee is back in training this week and could be in contention for the clash. Former Rams defender Nathan Doyle is ineligible – he joined Hull from the Rams, and is subject to the same agreement as Fagan.
Player to watch: Dean Windass / Jon Parkin
Both strikers have the ability to really test the Rams back-line. Parkin is the clubs top goal scorer, with six, and Dean Windass has scored goals which ever club he has been with. It`s going to be another hard day for the Rams defence.
Last Time We Met
12th August 2006
Hull City 1 – Parkin
Derby County 2 – Oakley, Smith T
Teams that day
Hull City: Myhill, Ricketts, Turner, Collins, Dawson, Fagan, Marney, Livermore, France, Parkin, Duffy
Subs: Andrews (for Livermore, 80), Elliott (for France, 78), Barmby (for Duffy, for 34), Thelwell, Duke (gk).
Derby County: Bywater, Jackson, Moore, M.Johnson, Boertien, Idiakez, S.Johnson, T.Smith, Oakley, Barnes, Howard
Subs: Leacock (for Jackson, 77), R.Smith (for S.Johnson, 58), Bolder (for Barnes, 86), Bisgaard, Peschisolido.
Scorers: Oakley (7), Parkin (45, pen), T Smith (74, pen)
Referee: K A Woolmer (Northamptonshire)
Last time at Pride Park
17th April 2006
Derby 1 Hull 1
Tommy Smith rescued Derby County again, as Terry Westley`s side struggled to a 1-1 draw against Hull City. He dispatched a penalty two minutes from time to earn a 1-1 draw at Pride Park just as Easter Monday was going flat on the Rams. Hull had offered little threat but went ahead after 33 minutes with a goal from nothing. But it was a great individual goal, Green showed wonderful technique to thump a stunning volley from 30-yards high past Lee Camp after Idiakez and Michael Johnson had hindered each other in trying to clear.
Derby County: Camp, Nyatanga, Addison, M Johnson, Edworthy, Idiakez, Thirlwell, Holmes, Smith, Peschisolido, Bisgaard
Subs: Jackson (for M Johnson, 57), Barnes (for Thirlwell, 64), Bolder (for Holmes, 64), Ashton, Poole (gk).
Hull City: Myhill, Delaney, Cort, Rogers, Wiseman, Welsh, Andrews, Green, Paynter, Fagan, Parkin
Subs: Ellison (for Paynter, 70), Duffy (for Fagan, 90), Thelwell, Fry, Duke (gk).
Referee: A D’Urso (Essex)
Simmo`s Prediction –
The Rams should win the game well but with Hull city fighting relegation it will be closer than people think. I`ll go – Derby County 2 Hull City 1