Tomorrow Derby will make the journey to Hillsborough to take on 18th placed Sheffield Wednesday. The 9th placed Rams will be backed by a large away following in the West Stand, with the club selling their initial 3,018 allocation (however tickets will still be available on the day – see club website for more details). Sheffield Wednesday’s official website says that there is a ‘bumper crowd expected’.
4 of the last 8 meetings between the two clubs have produced draws, including last time. The two sides opened their Championship campaigns this season with a game against each other at Pride Park, despite the home side leading 2-0 the newly promoted team clawed it back to 2-2 to get a share of the spoils.
2005 was the last time that Derby have tasted defeat at Hillsborough, with the last game in Yorkshire competed between the sides ending in a boring 0-0 draw back in 2010. Their 39,000 all-seater stadium hasn’t proved as much of a fortress as the Wednesday faithful hoped, in fact the Owls have a better record away from home this season. 8 home defeats for the club isn’t a record to boast about, however things have picked up recently in their matches at Hillsborough – they’re 3 home games unbeaten, however that does include the FA Cup. Last weekend was certainly cause for encouragement for the Owls after an impressive 3-1 victory over promotion chasing Brighton.
Every away game fans can have that optimism, often caught up in the occasion of the day and trip, but the Rams’ away form has been a down side to the campaign so far, maybe if it was a bit better we could be talking about promotion a bit more. 8 away defeats, 3 draws and victories doesn’t make for perfect reading. However the right performances have often been there on the road but Nigel Clough has lacked his side taking chances on the road, something that he may address in the loan market. Could the spirited and large following spur the team onto victory at the expense of one of our Championship Yorkshire foes?
Since the loan window’s opening today Owls boss Dave Jones has delved into the market to bring in Sunderland and England Under-21 striker Connor Wickham on-loan, a player that Derby had been linked with in the past. Rams manager Nigel Clough hasn’t yet made any loan signings but the Derby supporters could be seeing 2 or 3 additions soon.
Former-Sheffield United man Jamie Ward is available to play despite having to withdraw from the Northern Ireland international squad through a tight hamstring. Mason Bennett is away on England Under-17 duty, James O’Connor has a knee problem and Shaun Barker is a long-term absentee – they’ll all miss the action. Derby could be, meanwhile, backed by a few international players after Richard Keogh, Jeff Hendrick, Conor Sammon, Will Hughes, Theo Robinson, Kieron Freeman, Valentin Gjokaj and Mark O’Brien were all away with their respective countries for the short international midweek break.
Ward can certainly expect some boos at Hillsborough, after all he is a former-United striker and scored this goal (below).
Let’s hope for a Rams victory, come on you Rams!