Date: 21st April 2009 at 2:46pm
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The 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace on Saturday leaves The Rams still needing a couple of points to mathematically secure their Championship status and they have another opportunity to gather them as Reading visit Pride Park. Their defensive frailties were again on show as they fell to ten man Palace and they are limping across the finish line of the season in the words of manager Nigel Clough. If Norwich drop points between now and the end of the season then it will not matter but Clough wants his side to secure their own future as early as possible.

Nigel Clough has more options available to him with the return from Sheffield Wednesday of Luke Varney who scored twice at the weekend and all indications are that he will go straight into the squad tonight. Chris Porter may also be risked as The Rams try to secure the one victory that will see them safe. Stephen Pearson was replaced after a knock to his knee on Saturday and may be a doubt here whilst Kris Commons and Rob Hulse look set to continue up front together.

Reading looked as though they would be fighting for automatic promotion after leading the pack chasing Birmingham and Wolves for the majority of the season but they have not won in five games and the goals seemed to have dried up meaning they will now have to settle for a play-off berth at best. Steve Coppell`s side gave Derby a footballing lesson in the 3-0 victory in November and will be looking for points at Pride Park as they still need to secure a top six finish as they are currently only three points ahead of Swansea and Preston for the last spot.

Vital Quotes:

‘We didn’t take our chances, especially the one that fell to Rob Hulse in the 94th minute.”

‘I thought we had got to grips with the game in the second half but I think they had a feeling of injustice over the sending off and that seemed to galvanise them.”

Nigel Clough talking to the Radio Derby about the defeat to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Derby County Team News:

Stephen Pearson could miss out after going off with a knock to his knee on Saturday Luke Varney goes straight into the squad after returning from his loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday and Chris Porter could make a return.

Player to watch: Luke Varney

May not start the match but looks to be full of confidence after his brace against Southampton on Saturday. Clough has always said Varney is part of his plans for next season and that his loan spell was to allow him to get some games under his belt after injury and illness problems.

Reading Team News:

James Harper is still out but Kevin Doyle is available again for selection. Noel Hunt and Brynjar Gunnarsson could both face late decisions regarding their involvement here.

Player to watch: Kevin Doyle

Still linked to Premiership clubs after leading the way with 18 goals for Reading so far, the Irish international scored twice at the Madejski in November to help his side ease to a 3-0 victory.

Match Facts & Stats

Last five results

Derby County
Barnsley (H) 0-0
Burnley (H) 1-1 Connolly
Cardiff City (A) 1-4 Johnson (og)
Wolverhampton Wanderers (H) 2-3 Kazmierczak, Sterjovski
Crystal Palace (A) 0-1

Crystal Palace (A) 0-0
Coventry City (A) 0-0
Sheffield United (H) 0-1
Blackpool (A) 2-2 Hunt, Karacan
Barnsley (H) 0-0

Match Prediction:

The Rams will need to tighten up at the back to take anything from this game as Reading are always a threat going forward despite leaner times for their strikers of late. If Derby can get a break in front of goal they can certainly pose their visitors problems and this will end 2-2.

Next Fixtures:

25th April v Charlton Athletic (Coca Cola Championship) Pride Park


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