After a woeful showing in the home defeat to Reading on Valentine`s Day, Nigel Clough`s youthful Derby side will be keen to make the fans fall in love with them once more with a good performance against high-flying Southampton.
Under the stewardship of former Wigan goalkeeper Nigel Adkins, the Saints could be on the verge of back-to-back promotions having convincingly earned promotion last season from League One.
Without a win in five games, a trip to Southampton looks even more daunting than it would coming off the back of a good run of results, but with returning attacking options and a big effort, anything is possible, and should the defence stand firm, claiming a point could be on the cards.
Nigel Clough has spoken to the DET about his attacking options ahead of the south-coast clash: ‘Nathan was absolutely knackered after the Reading match,’ said Clough. ‘I asked him when he last played 90 minutes and he couldn’t remember!
‘That is a consideration this weekend and that’s why we didn’t want to risk Theo Robinson or Steven Davies in the Derbyshire Senior Cup on Wednesday night.
‘If he has to come out for one game to recover, then so be it.
‘I know he hasn’t been great in the last couple of games but he’s got through 85 and 90 minutes, which is a step forward.’
The Saints Team News:
Southampton`s major injury worry is full-back Frazer Richardson, who limped off the field of play in Saint`s recent 1-1 draw with fellow promotion-hopefuls West Ham.
Defender Jos Hooiveld, returning from an injury, completed the 90 minutes and will continue against The Rams.
Player to watch: Rickie Lambert
Although Southampton have an abundance of excellent Championship players, it is hard to look beyond Lambert in the search for the danger-man.
He is Saints’ talisman and will provide a stern test for the excellent Shaun Barker and Jason Shackell in the Rams defence.
The Rams Team News:
Busy midfielder Craig Bryson was withdrawn at half-time in the 0-1 defeat against Reading and was joined by Gareth Roberts on the treatment table shortly afterwards. The pair face fitness tests but are rated doubtful.
The return of striker Steven Davies will boost Nigel Clough`s attacking options and he may not be too far away from a starting berth.
Player to watch: Theo Robinson
Always willing, often frustrating, sometimes delivering.
Theo has had bad luck with recent injuries but no matter how irritating his general play can be, he can always grab a goal.
Match Facts & Stats
Derby County last 5:
Reading (h) 0-1
Millwall (a) 0-0
Barnsley (a) 2-3
Stoke City (h) 0-2
Burnley (a) 0-0
Southampton last 5:
West Ham United (a) 1-1
Burnley (h) 2-0
Millwall (h) 2-3
Birmingham City (a) 0-0
Cardiff City (a) 1-1
Derby County vs. Leicester City, THURSDAY 23rd February, 19:45pm, The Championship