Derby County are back in action a week after the sensational 10-man victory over bitter East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest.
Seven days have passed since the magnificent performance Nigel Clough’s new-look side put in at The City Ground, and they now face a vital challenge to prove their early-season play-off place is not a fluke.
Derby fans have seen enough heart and skill in the opening seven games to be optimistic about the rest of the season, but a ‘less important’ game against a team they are now expected to beat could really prove their mental strength to the rest of the league.
Millwall sit in 16th place on seven points, two above the highest relegation place, currently occupied by Nottingham Forest, but have suffered heavy defeats in the last two away games, conceding eight goals without reply.
Make no mistake, Derby are heavy favourites, but, as the old maxim goes, there’s no such thing as an easy game in this league.
Derby’s stand in skipper is not underestimating the challenge his side will face on Saturday afternoon.
The man-mountain signed from Barnsley in the summer told the Derby official site: ‘The start to the season has been good, but we’re not getting carried away.
’15 points from seven games is obviously a very good return, which is reflected in our league position.
‘We want to enjoy the start we’ve made, but we are very focused on building on it and not letting it slip through our grasp.
‘The game against Millwall on Saturday is huge.
‘Everyone knows we need to avoid any sort of comedown from Forest and we just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing and nothing less.’
Lions boss Kenny Jackett has called on his faltering strike-force to end their goal drought: ‘I expect us to be prepared and ready to get back to the required standard against a good side.
‘We will have a number of players ready to return which will give us a boost.
‘We need a big improvement in performance levels from Tuesday night, we need our best players out there playing to their maximum and clearly we must start scoring goals again.
‘We are creating chances but our finishing has to be better.’
The Rams Team News:
Goalkeeper Adam Legzdins will start his first game for The Rams since signing from Burton Albion, following an impressive debut after replacing the red-carded Frank Fielding in the victory over Nottingham Forest.
Experienced left-back Kevin Kilbane will continue his absence from the Derby side. Fellow Veteran, Gareth Roberts should continue in his stead.
Former Lions striker, Theo Robinson, was awarded man of the match for his tireless performance against Forest at the weekend and will be hoping he has done enough to face his old side.
Player to watch: Jeff Hendrick
Following his superb winning goal against Nottingham Forest, midfielder Hendrick will be in the action once more against The Lions.
His first professional goal was special, and it will be fascinating to see how he reacts to it in future performances.]
A time will come where he and fellow young Irishman, Mark O’Brien, will lose form, as inexperienced players often do, but at the current time they are both proving to be wonderful academy products.
The Lions Team News:
Millwall’s powerful striker, Darius Henderson, is unlikely to feature in the clash as he is suffering from a calf injury and fellow striker, Josh Mcquoid, is also nursing an injury. Their shortage of strikers will not help in ending a goal drought lasting a staggering six-and-a-half hours.
The brilliantly named Tamika Mkandawire should be fit enough to take up a midfield role.
Player to watch: Hamer Bouazza
Powerful winger, Bouazza, scored a goal for Fulham against The Rams in a 2-2 draw during the dreadful Premier League Campaign of 07/08.
His best spell in football came as a Watford player early in his career, but the 26-year-old Algerian has been in decent form so far this season.
He will be a threat and John Brayford will need to keep him on the inside to prevent him using his devilish left foot.
Match Facts & Stats
Derby County last 5:
Nottingham Forest (a) 1-2
Coventry City (a) 0-2
Burnley (h) 1-2
Doncaster Rovers (h) 3-0
Blackpool (a) 1-0
Millwall last 5:
Wolverhampton Wanderers (a) 0-5
West Ham United (h) 0-0
Birmingham City (a) 0-3
Barnsley (h) 0-0
Morcambe (h) 2-0
Derby County vs. Millwall, Tue 27th September, 19:45pm, The Championship