The Rams enter the final stages of the season with their hopes of reaching the play-offs all but extinguished.
The final three games could still improve the points tally and the higher the position the better for the fans after season after season of disheartening relegation battles.
Cardiff City are currently occupying 6th place in the table and have it all to play for with the weekend victors at Pride Park, Middlesbrough, breathing down their necks just two points behind.
Rams boss Nigel Clough believes the higher his side finishes this season, the easier it will be to recruit new players in the summer: ‘It’s important because if we finish only five or six points short of the top six we can say to our targets ‘you could make that difference next season’,’ added Clough.
‘Despite the injuries we have had, despite losing skipper Shaun Barker and despite the strikers having been out at different times, we are not far off.
‘We want some more points, some more good perfomances and we are looking for things to take into next season.
‘We are also looking for a two or three player improvement in the summer to make that difference.’
Former Derby man Peter Whittingham is desperate to finally get promoted through the play-offs after just missing out in the last three seasons: ‘It would be nice to just sneak in there and win the whole thing, to be honest, instead of being in there the whole time,’ said the midfielder.
‘But we need to get in there first and we’ve got Derby on Tuesday night.
‘It’s a massive game for us and, if we get three points, we’ll be flying.’
The Bluebirds Team News:
Big French forward Rudy Gestede could miss out with the same hip problem which kept him out at the weekend.
If he does fail to recover, he will join excellent winger Craig Conway on the sidelines, who is out for 3 months.
Player to watch: Peter Whittingham
Midfielder Whittingham has developed a real eye for goal at Cardiff, an ability he never revealed whilst on loan at Pride Park from Aston Villa in 2005.
Since joining Cardiff he has smashed in 54 league goals in 221 league games, most of them from outside the box.
The Rams should be wary of him arriving late on the edge of the box.
The Rams Team News:
Nathan Tyson and Jamie Ward will be battling for a starting role in the after featuring at the weekend following their injury lay offs.
John Brayford is set to return to the squad, if not tonight then on Saturday, but it is unclear whether he would displace Tom Naylor given the former Mansfield man’s brilliant start to life in the Championship.
Player to watch: Frank Fielding
Fielding is sure to come under pressure at The Cardiff City Stadium.
Derby have a terrible record in Wales and seem to concede 3 or more every time so Frank could be key to Derby’s hopes.
Match Facts & Stats
Derby County last 5:
Middlesbrough (h) 0-1
Leeds United (a) 2-0
Ipswich Town (h) 0-0
Bristol City (a) 1-1
Crystal Palace (h) 3-2
Cardiff City last 5:
Barnsley (a) 1-0
Watford (h) 1-1
Middlesbrough (a) 2-0
Millwall (h) 0-0
Birmingham City (a) 1-1
Portsmouth vs. Derby County, Sat 21st April, 15:00pm, The Championship