The 2011-12 season is already upon The Rams with a comfortable season in The Championship achieved.
The opposition for the weekend’s game is in an altogether more uncomfortable position.
Pompey look doomed to League One but cling to the faint hope they can catch Bristol City who are five points clear of the relegation zone but with a vastly inferior goal difference. Only two wins will do for embattled Portsmouth, who, of course, lost ten points earlier in the season for entering administration.
Derby could have the unfortunate task of relegating Southampton’s rivals, who could seal promotion on the same day.
Following two consecutive defeats – admittedly the reverse against Cardiff was desperately unlucky – The Rams will be so keen to get back to winning ways before the end of the season and end on a high.
Derby manager Nigel Clough is not relishing potentially consigning Portsmouth to the third tier: ‘It’s not ideal going into a game like this knowing your opponents could go down, for us as much as them,’ he said.
‘We have to concentrate on our own efforts and try to get three points, whether it means anything or not in terms of relegation or promotion, because the integrity of the league depends on that.’
Pompey Team News:
On-loan Derby striker Chris Maguire won’t be able to play against his parent club. It is good to see that Chris has performed well during his loan spell.
Israeli defender Tal Ben Haim could will miss out with a calf injury whilst former Man City midfielder Kelvin Etuhu may or may not feature following a family bereavement.
Player to watch: David Norris
Former Ipswich star Norris has impressed for Portsmouth this season despite his side’s lowly position.
He has eight league goals for the season and could be set to move on if Pompey don’t avoid the drop and have to strip further assets as they battle against the finances which still threaten the club.
The Rams Team News:
Paul Green will not feature after Nigel Clough revealed the midfielder will be leaving the club on the expiration of his contract.
He will be missed at the club if his wage demands are deemed too high, it is no surprise to see him leave.
Youngsters Will Hughes and Mason Bennett are in the squad.
Jamie Ward, Tom Naylor and Ben Davies are all doubts and will be assessed before kick-off.
Player to watch: Will Hughes
Sixteen-year-old midfielder Hughes could make his first start in a Derby shirt following an impressive performance against Sunderland reserves which saw The Rams advance to the cup final against Manchester City.
Nigel Clough has high hopes for him and fellow youngster Mason Bennett and one or both of the pair will feature on the south coast having been added to the squad.
Match Facts & Stats
Derby County last 5:
Cardiff City (a) 0-2
Middlesbrough (h) 0-1
Leeds United (a) 2-0
Ipswich Town (h) 0-0
Bristol City (a) 1-1
Portsmouth last 5:
Crystal Palace (h)2-1
Doncaster Rovers (a) 4-3
Millwall (h) 0-1
Southampton (a) 2-2
Burnley (h) 1-5
Derby County vs. Peterborough United, Sat 28th April, 12:30pm, The Championship