After another disappointing away performance at Turf Moor on Saturday, Derby go into this Carling Cup quarter-final as the underdogs against a Stoke side who are managing to hold their own so far in the Premiership largely thanks to an ex-Derby man with an extraordinary throw-in. After giving some of their squad players a run-out in the previous rounds, the news from Stoke looks as though they are taking this game seriously and want to claim their place in the next round.
New boy Luke Varney is already cup-tied and Nacer Barazite is forbidden from playing in his loan deal from Arsenal although James Tomkins is free to play so it may be a different looking line-up from the reverse against Burnley. It`s going to be a tough test for The Rams who have struggled at times defending set plays this season as they go up against a team who specialise in them. Miles Addison adds bulk to the midfield and Rob Hulse and whoever partners him up front will be in for a physical battle against a strong Stoke backline as they look to score the goals to put Derby into the semi-finals of the competition that Paul Jewell managed to take Wigan all the way to the final in.
Tony Pulis has his team in a position to fight for their top flight survival after some strong performances including victories over Aston Villa, Arsenal and Tottenham at the Britannia Stadium. Whilst at times they have been outplayed they haven`t been outworked and there have been very few games where Stoke have been out of contention by the final whistle since their opening day thrashing at Bolton. Former Rams` Rory Delap and Danny Higginbotham have both played major roles in The Potters success so far this season and look set to line-up against their former club as Stoke look to progress to the last four. Ricardo Fuller has been Stoke`s leading scorer so far this season with six goals in the Premiership whilst Glenn Whelan has top scored with two goals in their Carling Cup run.
‘They’ve got some good players and they play to their strengths.
They have got a lot of big lads in the team and they do like to be physical.
It’s a game we’re looking forward to but it’s going to be a tough test for us.’
Paul Jewell talking to Radio Derby about Stoke City`s style of play
Stoke City Team News:
Dave Kitson set to miss out with a knee injury and Michael Tonge is cup tied from his time at Sheffield United.
Player to watch: Rory Delap
Whilst far from a one man team The Potters wouldn`t be where they are now without his long throws that have set up a number of their goals so far this season. Tony Pulis looks set to take this quarter-final seriously and name a strong starting line up so Delap may well be Stoke`s main weapon in this tie.
Derby County Team News:
Nacer Barazite out due to the terms of his loan and Luke Varney is already cup tied, long term absentees Albrechtsen and Leacock still out but Tomkins looks set to continue in the centre of defence.
Player to watch: Rob Hulse
This is going to be far from a pretty match so his aerial prowess may well be needed at both ends of the pitch, if he can get the service he has certainly showed he knows the way to goal so far this season and with Ellington and Villa both having claimed hat-tricks in the competition so far he is due a goal.
Match Facts & Stats
Last five results
Wigan Athletic (A) 0-0
Rotherham United (H) 2-0 Whelan, Pugh
Manchester United (A) 0-5
West Bromwich Albion (H) 1-0 Sidibe
Hull City (H) 1-1 Fuller
Leeds United (H) 2-1 Villa, Ellington
Sheffield Wednesday (H) 3-0 Commons, Addison, Stewart
Ipswich Town (A) 0-2
Preston North End (H) 2-2 Hulse, Stewart
Burnley (A) 0-3
Get ready for a physical battle as Derby take their somewhat brittle away form to the Britannia to face a team who specialise what some call the ugly side of the game. Whatever your views on Stoke`s style it is certainly effective and, with Derby struggling to defend set pieces, this will end with a win for the Premiership side 2-0.
6th Dec v Crystal Palace (Coca Cola Championship) Pride Park