|Sunderland 1 v 1 Derby County|
Friday, 4th August 2017 Kick-off 19:45
D.J's Match Preview: Rams Must Rout Robins & Restart Run
Saturday, 11th Feb 2017 07:01 by Daniel J Sewart
The Rams will be looking to put two consecutive defeats behind them after closely fought battles against both Newcastle and Leicester in League and Cup.
Derby find themselves welcoming foes to Pride Park who although do not pose the same threat as their recent opponents, could easily be a banana skin instead of the easy win most fans will be hoping for.
After making wholesale changes for the Cup clash, McClaren is likely to return to the recent norm with Olsson, Pearce, Baird, Bryson, Ince and Bent returning to the starting line up in place of Lowe, Shackell, Christie, Anya and Blackman.
The one player likely to keep his starting spot is Camara who impressed in the first half against the Foxes and McClaren has mentioned in the media as a likely starter this time out.
Bryson, Hughes and Johnson have all been training late in the week despite carrying injuries, so it makes predicting who will line up very difficult unless you are close to the team and therefore who is genuinely recovered.
If all are fit then I expect a midfield 3 of Bryson, Butterfield and Johnson with Hughes on the bench having been out the longest. If any of them have not come up then DeSart may keep his role as CDM with Johnson or whoever is fit enough pushed forward.
Anya did well andI would like to see more of him out wide but after playing 120 minutes is unlikely to be risked so soon again after only recently returning from injury. Blackman was poor up top while Vydra showed glimpses but neither did enough to challenge Bent for the lone striker role. Nugent must be close to consideration for a starting role after returning midweek but is likely to grace the bench at least one more time.
The Robins have struggled this season but their struggles have been far worse on the road. Following their 0-4 win at Fulham back in September, they have only managed to take one point from the available 27, losing eight of their nine away games since.
Bristol will be hoping to welcome midfielder Korey Smith and full-back Adam Matthews back from injury while striker Matty Taylor is close to earning his first start since his move from their local rivals Bristol Rovers.
The Rams sit just outside the top 6 while Bristol arrives at Pride Park hovering only one game outside of the drop zone. Both will be desperate for wins to achieve their respective goals of chasing promotion and avoiding relegation
With 3 consecutive home games against lower table opposition, the Rams must put the foot on the accelerator now and try to take back a place in the top 6 as well as begin to establish a spot within them rather than popping in and out.
If the Rams are to prove themselves the real deal this season they must put strugglers to the sword and make another unbeaten charge. The Rams have the best rear guard in the league and Bristol regularly leak goals. On paper it should be easy but unfortunately football isn’t played on paper.
McClaren has emulated his first season in charge nearly to the point so far – to try to go one better this time – he will have instilled the urgency of the situation in his chargers.
Personally I expect the players to rise to the occasion and continue their great home form with a comprehensive win.
3 – 0 to Derby with a double for Ince and Nugent to seal it off the bench.
Last Time They Met:
Derby 1 v 1 Bristol
Ashton Gate - 17th September 2016
Derby 3 v 1 Bristol
The Baseball Ground - 1st April 1995
Manager / Player Match Previews:
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