Tomorrow it’s a trip to the West Midlands for the Rams, to take on Birmingham City.
Firstly, what struck me about the league table, when I looked ahead of tomorrow’s game, was that the Blues are just two points behind Derby and are in 18th place. Nigel Clough’s side sit in 12th place with 45 points, a large six place gap but only separated by two points – demonstrating just how competitive this league is. Lee Clark’s team are just five points clear from the relegation zone so aren’t safe yet. The table is incredibly tight and if Derby do drop more points we could be dragged into the bottom areas of the table.
After the midweek point at Cardiff, Rams fans were more than likely pleased with a point at the league leaders, but also frustrated not to have held out for more than seven minutes after scoring and having a first half goal wrongly disallowed.
Once again Nigel Clough finds himself in a situation where injuries are piling up and subsequently causing a few problems with the team selection. John Brayford could be out for several weeks with his hamstring injury. Meanwhile Jamie Ward is closer to a return and could be back for the home game V Leicester (16th March). Will Hughes, James O’Connor, Kieron Freeman and Mark O’Brien all remain out. On a more positive note, Craig Bryson, who missed Tuesday’s draw with Cardiff through a groin problem, could be back for tomorrow if he gets a positive outcome from a fitness test prior to the game.
Coach Johnny Metgod: “But if players are out injured, we have to put other players in and it gives youngsters a chance, like Valentin Gjokaj at Cardiff, and Michael Hoganson and Kieron Freeman in recent weeks.”
Some people are looking at the injuries at a positive angle, saying that it gives the youngsters are great opportunity which they’ve done well with so far. I personally believe that it shows how unequipped we are to make a sustained play-off challenge. There’s no question that we have seen signs of a very good side that looks capable of mounting a further push but a lack of strength and depth in the squad outlines why the Rams still aren’t ready for that. Could next season be the year for a top six push? I’d like to believe so but is a natural finisher one of the missing pieces to the jigsaw? I’m sure you’ll think so if you attended the game against Crystal Palace last week.
It’s difficult to discuss Derby at the moment without mentioning Conor Sammon. Having missed numerous chances and a late penalty in the defeat to the Eagles, he responded with a goal in the draw in Wales on Tuesday. I agree that he works hard and contributes to play but his finishing does need improving. However, Robbie Savage is the latest to praise the Irish international with these Tweets.
@sammon18 hi mate , keep going,keep believing your doing the right things,you will win the crowd over, you’ve done great !
— Robbie Savage (@RobbieSavage8) March 8, 2013
@sammon18 I’ve been there , don’t get down on yourself, just keep working hard !
— Robbie Savage (@RobbieSavage8) March 8, 2013
The former Rams captain also went through a spell of not having the crowd on his side and won the majority of them over. I do hope that Sammon does, as much as his finishing annoys me at times I still get behind him – supporters should be supporting their players.
Onto the opponents of the game tomorrow, the Blues have won five home league games this season & have won one game in their last eleven matches at home. They’ve been going through quite a rough patch recently with heavy defeats to Hull and Watford sandwiched between a more brighter four points from two. On Tuesday, Blackpool were the visitors to St Andrew’s and fought out a 1-1 draw.
Before you start fearing another Blues V Rams match where Marlon King scores, let me tell you that he’s out for the remainder of the season with a knee problem. Central defender Steven Caldwell could return if he passes a late fitness assessment, midfielders Keith Fahey and Darren Ambrose could also be involved after spending some time in the treatment room.
In the last meeting, an incredible 3-2 Derby victory saw Conor Sammon grab a rare brace and Nathan Tyson snatch a late winner – after a mad eleven minutes of four of the five goals scored. In the meeting at St Andrew’s last season, Nigel Clough’s side put on a spiritual performance to earn a 2-2 draw after going two goals behind. Remind yourself of the Theo Robinson equaliser by watching the video below. We have an interesting game on our hands tomorrow and I predict a 2-1 away win with goals courtesy of Jeff Hendrick and Chris Martin.
COME ON YOU RAMS!