High-flying Swansea City are the visitors to Pride Park to face the struggling Rams.
Home form has been utterly woeful since November, with only two points picked up from a 27 since the 3-2 success over Scunthorpe United.
The run has to come to an end at some point and depressed and entertainment-starved Rams fans will be hoping that the first maximum-points haul at home, for a frankly embarrassing three and a half months, comes against a Swansea side which has only picked up one point from the last available six.
Last season’s match between the sides at Pride Park ended in a 1-0 loss for The Rams, with former Rams loanee Shefki Kuqi grabbing the only goal. He now plies his trade with Premier League side Newcastle United.
Another player who was on loan with Derby earlier in the season is Luke Moore who moved from West Brom to Swansea in January.
He scored four in 12 for Derby and has grabbed two in 10 for his new side. Let’s hope he doesn’t come back to silence the fans that were often critical of his performances in a Rams shirt…
Rams keeper Frank Fielding only has two more games as a Derby keeper before his loan spell at the club is up, but he will be cheering on the Rams on his return to Blackburn Rovers: ‘It’s going to be as frustrating as hell not being able to play,’ admitted Fielding.
‘I’m going to be a Derby fan and I’ll be rooting for the lads to do well.
‘Matt Duke will come in, though, and be brilliant for us – and we’ll stay up.’
Ex-Ram Luke Moore thinks his old side can steer clear of trouble and get enough points to secure Championship status: ‘I think they have been a bit unlucky,’ said the former Aston Villa man.
‘I speak to one or two of the boys and, although they have gone through a bit of a bad spell, they have some very good players and this will be a hard game for us.
‘Derby is a very good football club ? the facilities, the training ground and the stadium.
‘It’s set up probably to do a little better than they have been doing but I think they are in a transition period.’
The Rams Team News:
Jamie Ward went off at half-time in the defeat to Middlesbrough with a tight hamstring, but is expected to be fit for the Swansea game.
Midfielder James Bailey may return to the Derby squad after missing the last seven games, although he is very unlikely to start.
Russell Anderson has resumed full training but the game will come too soon for him.
Player to watch: Daniel Ayala
Centre-back Ayala’s pace could be key in trying to keep quiet Swansea’s pacy forward trio of Luke Moore, Nathan Dyer and Scott Sinclair.
Shaun Barker has struggled for form this season, and has been exposed for his lack of pace on occasion, possibly due to an ongoing knee problem, so on-loan Liverpool defender Ayala will try to sweep up behind him.
The Swans Team News:
Swansea manager Brendan Rogers doesn’t have many injury worries to contend with.
Gary Monk has a knee injury and Andrea Orlandi has been struggling with his thigh, but both will probably miss out having only just resumed training.
Player to watch: Scott Sinclair
Winger Sinclair swapped Chelsea for Swansea in the summer and hasn’t looked back. He is Swansea’s top scorer with 21 goals in 37 appearances this season and has a frightening turn of pace.
Derby’s defence has drastically improved in recent weeks but Sinclair would provide a real test to man Premier League defences.
Match Facts & Stats
The Rams’ last five:
Middlesbrough (a) 1-2
Doncaster Rovers (h) 1-3
Sheffield United (a) 1-0
Hull City (h) 0-1
The Swans’ last five:
Watford (h) 1-1
Scunthorpe United (a) 0-1
Leeds United (h) 3-0
Coventry City (a) 1-0
Doncaster Rovers (h) 3-0
Crystal Palace vs. Derby County, Sat 19 Mar, 15:00, The Championship