The Rams will take on Premier League Stoke City tomorrow in the fourth round of this season’s FA Cup.
The Potters, who sit in eight place in the Premier League and reached the final of the competition last year, will provide formidable opposition, not because of their supposed one-dimensional long-ball tactics, but because they play good football and have solid Premier League players.
Tony Pulis has done a tremendous job at the Britannia Stadium and has paid tribute to The Rams in his pre-match comments.
As the game is reasonably local, Stoke will bring a large, vociferous support and the game should have a good atmosphere.
John Brayford was over the moon when he saw The Rams had drawn his hometown club in the cup: ‘I was delighted when I saw the draw. As soon as it was made I had a load of texts from my mates and the banter started straight away.
‘All my family and friends are from the area so personally, it’s a good draw. From a Derby County perspective it’s a really good chance for us to go toe-to-toe with a Premier League side competing in Europe.
‘Hopefully we can put on a good performance, give them a game and hopefully progress to the next round.’
The Rams Team News:
Ryan Noble has not been given permission to face Stoke so Nigel Clough may give youngster Mason Bennett a chance alongside Callum Ball.
James Bailey has been ill but is fit to play The Potters and should play although Jeff Hendrick played very well in the second half against Burnley.
Player to watch: Jamie Ward
Speedy trickster Ward will have to produce some of his magic to break down the Potters’ defence.
He is consistently excellent but could well raise his game against Premier League opposition.
The Potters Team News:
Stoke manager Tony Pulis has no fresh injury worries.
He may decide to shake things up but will be keen to reach the final for a second year in a row.
Player to watch: Peter Crouch
Lanky frontman Crouch will provide a stern test for Shaun Barker and Jason Shackell at the heart of the Rams defence.
He has proved to be an excellent acquisition for Tony Pulis.
Match Facts & Stats
Derby County last 5:
Burnley (a) 0-0
Coventry City (h) 1-0
Crystal Palace (h) 1-0
Hull City (a) 1-0
West Ham United (h) 2-1
Stoke City last 5:
West Bromwich Albion (h) 1-2
Liverpool (a) 0-0
Gillingham (a) 3-1
Blackburn Rovers (a) 2-1
Wigan Athletic (h) 2-2
Barnsley vs. Derby County, Tue 31st January, 19:45pm, The Championship