After the creditable and hugely encouraging draw against Birmingham City, Derby have cause to be optimistic against an in-form Blackpool managed by charismatic media darling Ian Holloway.
The Tangerines sit in fourth place and are looking good to make the play-offs following relegation from the Premier League. They reached the ‘promised land’ by virtue of a 3-2 win over Cardiff City at Wembley two years ago.
The clash is the first of three home games in a row and three points would put The Rams in a strong position going into the Watford and Forest games.
Derby’s all-action midfielder Craig Bryon is playing through the pain barrier for The Rams with an Achilles injury: ‘It’s still sore but it seems to be geting better each day and I am starting to feel a bit more comfortable going into games,’ he said.
‘For the past month, I have been going into games with a lot of pain and trying to get through it.
‘I don’t think it worked for me that well but I felt not too bad on Saturday and I think I was back to doing what I have been doing.’
Tangerines manager is looking forward to playing at Pride Park: ‘It should be a nice, big pitch and we’ve been there before and won, so let’s see if we can do it again,’ he said.
‘I thought they were a good side when they nicked a win off us earlier in the season so it should be a good match.’
The Rams Team News:
Centre-back Jason Shackell will miss out with a foot injury, a major blow to the Rams defence.
Nigel Clough has no further new injuries to contend with.
Player to watch: Steven Davies
Davies scored with a superbly taken header to mark the end of his injury nightmare and to hopefully begin another scoring spree.
He now has six for the season and took his only chance against Birmingham brilliantly.
The Seasiders Team News:
Classy winger Matt Phillips and defender Craig Cathcart are both available for Ian Holloway’s side after brief injuries.
Player to watch: Tom Ince
Son of former England international Paul Ince, Tom has sparkled in tangerine and has three goals in his last two games including a sensational volley with the outside of his left boot in the 1-1 draw with Hull City.
Match Facts & Stats
Derby County last 5:
Birmingham City (a) 2-2
Leicester City (h) 0-1
Southampton (a) 0-4
Reading (h) 0-1
Millwall (a) 0-0
Blackpool last 5:
Hull City (h) 1-1
Bristol City (a) 3-1
West Ham United (h) 1-4
Everton (a) 0-2
Doncaster Rovers (a) 3-1
Derby County vs. Watford, Sat 10th March, 15:00pm, The Championship