Derby Preview - Away, March 6th
Watford travel to Pride Park on Saturday, once again looking to right the wrong`s of their abysmal away form at the expense of Nigel Clough`s struggling Rams.
Derby been a real mixed bag this season, but ultimately sit a disappointing 16th, a place below Malky Mackay`s Hornets. The Golden Boys will have to be wary at Pride Park, because in the comforts of their home the Rams have pulled some good results out the bag recently. Beating rivals Nottingham Forest 1-0 back in January was followed up with a 3-0 trouncing of Newcastle in their next home game before a tight 2-1 defeat in the F.A Cup by high-flying Premier League outfit Birmingham. Preston North End were next to visit the Midlander`s and returned to Lancashire after a 5-3 hiding by Clough`s side.
In order to help his side across the finish line, Clough was busy post January securing a number of loan targets. Bolton full-back Nicky Hunt extended his loan whilst fellow defender Javan Vidal penned a loan deal with the Rams from Manchester City. Young former Palace winger Dave Martin signed on loan from Millwall with a view to a permanent move whilst Arsenal young gun Giles Sunu signed on loan to bolster Clough`s frontline options.
Finally, forgotten Stoke midfielder Michael Tonge also moved to Pride Park on loan. Since signing for Tony Pulis` side in 2008 upon their promotion to the Premier League, Tonge has managed just one league start and a further 9 sub appearances. Since then the creative midfielder has also spent time on loan at Preston. At his first club, Sheffield United Tonge was regarded as an extremely dangerous winger who could also slot in through the middle, handy with set-pieces Tonge will relish getting first-team action regularly again.
Alongside Tonge in midfield is Robbie 'Marmite` Savage, a player universally loved and loathed depending on where you are. Currently in the twilight of his career the 35 year-old midfielder has confirmed Derby will be his last club as he sees out the remainder of his contract. A massively experienced head in the midfield having plied most of his trade in the Premier League with Blackburn, Birmingham and Leicester, Savage started his career at Manchester United before moving onto the Crewe Alexandra production line where he was moulded into the combatative midfielder he is today. Farmed out on loan to Brighton and Hove Albion last season, Savage has returned stronger this term making 33 league starts scoring twice, one of which a beautiful free-kick against QPR in October.
Up top is vastly experience Rob Hulse, the very definition of a traditional centre forward. Built like a brick outhouse the six footer has managed 25 goals in 65 league starts for the Rams since signing back in 2008 from Sheffield United. Hulse has spent most his career in the North with Leeds United and Preston North End also listing amongst his former clubs, Hulse was another to come through at Gresty Road under Dario Gradi`s guidance.
Providing the guile up top will be former Forest favourite, Kris Commons. The Derby number 10 made the switch in 2008 on a free transfer after both sides dropped down a division. Commons made over 100 league starts as a Red before becoming a Ram where he has clocked up Commons made over 100 league starts as a Red before becoming a Ram where he has clocked up 40 starts and 8 league goals. Capable of producing something from nothing Commons` left foot capable of winning games by itself. Commons has four Scotland caps to boot.
Not unsurprisingly, Derby have a number of injuries to contend with, Hulse looks set to be fit having been on the bench versus West Brom whilst fellow forward Steven Davies is hamstrung. Dean Leacock is unlikely to make the squad with a knee problem whilst Lee Hendrie and Gary Teale have both had calf problems. Left back Jay McEveley completes his two match ban.
Tom Cleverley continues his suspension whilst Jay DeMerit should shake off a knock picked up in midweek with the USA whilst taking on Holland.
Likely Derby XI
Hunt Buxton Barker Moxey
Tonge Savage (c) Green Pearson
Likely Watford XI
Mariappa DeMerit (c) Taylor Doyley
Cowie Lansbury Eustace Harley
Derby County: WLWLL