The Rams are back in action after the international break with a mouth-watering clash against table-topping Southampton.
Nigel Clough’s side were battered by big spending Leicester City in their last fixture two weeks ago so they will be keen to get back to winning ways and stay in third place in the table, possibly moving even higher depending on results elsewhere.
The Saints have started the season in sensational form and have a superb 100% record on home soil. However, their away record of 2-1-2 does provide cause for optimism, and Derby have been excellent this season, proving people wrong and picking up points from unlikely positions.
Rams boss Nigel Clough, who is on the verge of signing a new contract with the club, is relishing the challenge of a tough-looking six-game run: ‘It looks a tough run,’ said Clough.
‘We`ve got top-of-the-table Southampton, Middlesbrough away, Reading away, Portsmouth and Cardiff at home, and Peterborough away which will be as hard as any of the games.
‘This next batch of fixtures will test our top-six credentials and it is a challenge but one the players should relish.
‘For the best part of the last couple of years we have been looking at the bottom six and thinking we need so many points to get out of it.
‘This is a different sort of challenge, a much more pleasant one.
‘Whether you are down near the bottom or up near the top, you have to relish it.’
Former Derby winger Lee Holmes has paid tribute to the job Nigel Clough is doing at Pride Park: ‘It is a place where I grew up and I always look out for their results,’ said Holmes.
‘They are going well as are we and it would be a big game for me to be involved in and something I am really looking forward to.
‘They’ve got a good team spirit up there and Nigel has got them playing the way he wants.
‘He has been there a couple of years now and everyone knows you need a couple of years to settle in.
‘It seems that this year they are having a right good go at it. It’s nice to see they have given Nigel a good go in the job.’
The Rams Team News:
Veteran left-back Kevin Kilbane should come back into the side following an injury lay-off.
The 34-year-old Irishman sat out his country’s international games at the weekend but is expected to start for The Rams against Southampton.
Jamie Ward, however, is struggling to make the game after missing out on Northern Ireland’s recent matches with a hamstring injury.
Nathan Tyson is still out but may make his return in a week against Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.
Player to watch: Mark O’Brien
Mark ‘OB’ Brian has been in brilliant form this season but had a tough time against Leicester City.
He will have to be at his very best to keep Rickie Lambert quiet and will rely on the experience of Jason Shackell to marshall the defence.
The Saints Team News:
Southampton are relatively untroubled by injuries but may be boosted by the return of a brace of strikers.
Former Southend man Lee Barnard may make the squad for the first time this season and veteran striker David Connolly may return to the starting 11 after being rested for his side’s thrashing of Watford.
Player to watch: Rickie Lambert
Powerful striker Lambert has hammered in 65 goals in 123 games for the south-coast club since signing from Bristol Rovers in 2009.
He is a superb striker and is already on double figures in goals for the season.
Match Facts & Stats
Derby County last 5:
Leicester City (a) 0-4
Barnsley (h) 1-1
Millwall (h) 3-0
Nottingham Forest (a) 1-2
Coventry City (a) 0-2
Southampton last 5:
Watford (h) 4-0
Cardiff City (a) 1-2
Burnley (a) 1-1
Preston North End (h) 2-1
Birmingham City (h) 4-1
Reading vs. Derby County, Tue 18th October, 20:00pm, The Championship