Derby County will open their pre-season friendly campaign on Wednesday at The One Call Stadium as they take on Blue Square Premier side Mansfield Town. The Rams’ second game comes on Saturday at The Pirelli Stadium where League Two Burton Albion will provide the test for Nigel Clough’s players. Manager Nigel Clough is expected to name a first and second half eleven for both of the games. Here’s the previews-
Nigel Clough’s available first team squad for the games-
Goalkeepers- Adam Legzdins, Saul Deeney.
Defenders- John Brayford, Gareth Roberts, Jake Buxton, Richard Keogh, Tom Naylor, Josh Lelan, Stefan Galinski.
Midfielders- Craig Bryson, Jeff Hendrick, Michael Jacobs, Conor Doyle, Ben Davies, Will Hughes, James Bailey, Paul Coutts, James Caton (trialist).
Strikers- Nathan Tyson, Jamie Ward, Theo Robinson, Mason Bennett, Steve Davies (unlikely to play), Kane Richards.
Unavailable (V Mansfield)- Frank Fielding (Clough will not be risk Fielding, he has some soreness in a knee), Mark O’Brien (He has had a long term injury so Clough won’t rush him back but he is fit).
V Mansfield Town, Wednesday 25th July.
Last season The Stags reached the Blue Square Premier’s Play-Off semi-finals. The Nottinghamshire side have struggled in getting out of the Conference since relegation from the Football League in 2008. This game will be Mansfield’s biggest pre-season test, with Rotherham being the only other Football League side that will face The Stags.
One to watch- Matthew Green
The striker joined the club in August 2011, initially on loan from Oxford. The Stags were so impressed by Green’s performances and many goals they offered him a permanent deal in January 2012. Last season he was Mansfield’s top goalscorer, bagging 29 goals. The 25 year old is a former Cardiff City player, where he played 6 league games in the Championship. The former Bluebird was part of the Oxford squad that won promotion in 2010. He will have to play a pivotal part if the Yellows are going to challenge for promotion this forthcoming season.
The Boss- Paul Cox
Cox was named Mansfield boss in May 2011 after a successful season with Eastwood Town. In his first year with The Stags he reached the play-off semi-finals and he’ll be hoping to go one better this season with promotion in mind. During his playing career he was a defender, who was most well known for his time at Notts County.
Played for both (current players only)
Jake Buxton- Bucko is a Mansfield lad, where he came through the youth ranks. He made his first team debut at the age of just 17 and went on to captain his hometown club. After a short spell at Burton, where he won promotion, he linked up with Derby County. So far the former stag has made 41 appearances for The Rams. Nigel Clough stated his faith in Buxton’s ability to become a first team regular at Championship level following the sale of Jason Shackell and Shaun Barker’s injury.
Tom Naylor- Naylor is also a local Mansfield lad, where he came through the youth system and made his first team debut aged just 17. After impressing at Mansfield Town Naylor was handed trials at numerous clubs, including Derby, Charlton and Fulham. While on trial with The Rams, the defender caught Nigel Clough’s eye and he was handed a deal (initially loan then permanent).
Adam Murray- Murray began his career as a trainee with The Rams and turned professional in 1998. He made over 50 appearances with The Rams in a five year spell as a professional. His other former clubs include Notts County, Burton Albion and Carlisle. Murray came to Mansfield in 2010 and has since become captain. Now he occupies a player/assistant manager role with the club.
29-year-old Carolyn Still became the youngest CEO in English football when she was appointed by Mansfield last September. She was notably arrested and cautioned for using threatening words and behaviour after a play-off game against York in May.
Mansfield’s ground Field Mill is now known as The One Call Stadium due to sponsorship reasons. The capacity is 7,574 but can be 10,000 when fully opened however one stand always remains closed due to safety restrictions.
(Below, video) Mansfield’s goalkeeper Alan Marriott scores from his own half!
Derby Team News V Mansfield
Frank Fielding will miss out tonight’s friendly at Mansfield Town due to some soreness in his knee so Nigel Clough won’t want to risk him. Saul Deeney will return after a long injury and play 45 minutes as there will be a first half and second half eleven in the game. Mark O’Brien will also sit out tonight’s game, he has had a long term injury so Clough won’t rush him back but he is fit. Transfer listed Steve Davies is unlikely to play (Clough will probably not risk him to avoid an injury, “There’s a fair bit of interest in him” on the transfer front) but James Bailey will play in the friendly.”The players have been brilliant in the 10 or 12 days they have been back and now it is time to give them 45 minutes in a game. The games are about building fitness and avoiding injuries. We are looking at different things and not necessarily the result.” The Rams’ boss said.
V Burton Albion, Saturday 28th July.
Last season The Brewers finished 17th in League Two. Paul Peschisolido was sacked in March after a disappointing run of results which saw Albion slip down the table into a relegation battle. Another former Ram Gary Rowett took over as caretaker manager, he has since been given the job on a permanent basis. Nigel Clough will once again return to his former club, where he was key in The Brewers success in promotion to the Football league for the first time in 2009.
One to watch- Calvin Zola
Zola began his career with Newcastle United, coming through the youth ranks. His other previous clubs are Oldham, Tranmere and Crewe. The striker bagged 14 goals in all competitions last season, his first full season with the club after making a loan deal permanent in 2011. He has been linked with a move away from the Pirelli Stadium this summer however Burton boss Gary Rowett has dismissed reports linking Zola away from Burton.
The Boss- Gary Rowett
In May Rowett was confirmed as Burton boss after taking over for a brief spell following the sacking of Paul Peschisolido. This is his first role as manager since retiring from playing from playing in 2007 through persistent knee injuries. He was Paul Peschisolido’s assistant manager during Pesch’s spell with The Brewers that began in 2009. His clubs during his playing career include Derby, Everton, Birmingham, Leicester and Charlton. This season the 38 year old will be hoping for a much improved season than last.
Played for both (just current players, not managers)
Adam Legzdins- The Rams signed Legzdins last summer, and he made his debut as a sub against rivals Nottingham Forest. The previous season the goalkeeper made 46 appearances for the Brewers. He also spent a brief loan spell with The Brewers in March 2012, which ended early due to a hip injury.
Saul Deeney- The Irishman has spent two spells at The Brewers, both playing under now Rams boss Nigel Clough. He was part of the Burton side that took Manchester United to a FA Cup replay and the side that gained promotion to the Football League. Nigel Clough signed Deeney for the third time in 2009, this time for Derby.
John Brayford- The right back played under Clough at Burton from 2006-2008 which saw him make over 80 appearances and win seven caps for the England C side. After two season at Crewe, where he won player of the year twice, Nigel Clough re-signed him. He came to Pride park quite unknown but played every minute of every game and won player of the year in his first season.
Jake Buxton- The defender moved from Mansfield to Burton in 2008 and was part of the successful Brewers team that won the Blue Square Premier in 2009. After just one season at the Pirelli Bucko joined up with Clough again, this time at Derby. He has struggled with injuries at pride Park but he looks set to compete for a regular role in Derby’s starting line-up this season.
Ross Atkins- The 22 year old in a Rams academy product, who is currently on loan at Burton for the second successive season. Last season his loan spell gave him plenty of Football League experience as he made nearly 50 appearances. So far he’s only played one first team game for The Rams, a game against Reading in May 2011.
Chris Palmer- He began his professional career with Derby County, but did not establish himself as a first-team member so he joined Notts County in 2004. After spells at other Football League clubs Palmer joined Burton in 2011.
The Brewers home, The Pirelli Stadium, has a capacity of 6,912 (2,034 seated). There’s 3 terraces, the only seated stand is the south stand. The record attendance is 6,192, that came against Oxford in Burton’s Conference title win.
(Below, Video) Ben Davies scores a free-kick against The Brewers in a friendly last season, The Rams won it 3-1.
The Rams only won 2 of their 6 pre-season friendlies last season. Pre-season isn’t about results though, it’s about testing and learning about the squad. It will be interesting to see how trialist James Caton gets on but I’m most looking forward to seeing our new signings Richard Keogh, Paul Coutts and Michael Jacobs.