D-DAY: Aitor Karanka`s Nottingham Forest welcome Gary Rowett`s Derby County Trentside For Sunday`s Championship fixture.
Forest`s Manager, Aitor Karanka, gave his pre-match views at Friday`s press conference:
“Derbies are the same everywhere. For the supporters, it is the game that they want to win, even if we finished 10th and beat Derby at home, they would be happy.
The way to approach the game is the same, but as a player it is a game you would love to play in. Our players are desperate to play in it, at our stadium with a good atmosphere and it would be perfect for us to give the crowd a nice present.
We’ve shown that we can compete in the last few games when it is our day, we can score five goals. On Tuesday, we didn`t win the game but we kept a clean a sheet and had three or four chances to score.
We are consistent, aggressive and a team on the pitch so it is a good game for us to play.”
Nottingham Forest Team News:
Chris Cohen, David Vaughan & Ashkan Dejagah remain sidelined by injury, but Jack Hobbs is edging closer to a return.
Aitor Karanka will hope to call upon the services of Lee Tomlin, who did not feature in the 18 at Carrow Road due to a minor calf injury – if so, his return could see top scorer, Keiran Dowell, drop to the bench.
With Eric Lichaj, Barrie McKay, Liam Bridcutt and Daryl Murphy pushing for a game, will Aitor stick by the same players that have featured in the last 5 games?
Player to watch: Ben Watson
The 32 year old midfielder has added much needed strength, experience and bite in central midfield, forming a formidable partnership with Jack Colback – but much more importantly, leadership.
Such qualities have been lacking in a young Forest side and with Watson being given the Captain`s armband upon arrival – today is a day where his particular skill set will be crucial.
Derby County Team News:
Tom Huddlestone is expected to feature, despite suffering a dead leg at QPR, with Bradley Johnson likely to join him in centre midfield with George Thorne and Joe Ledley both ruled out.
David Nugent and Cameron Jerome will face fitness tests to determine their involvement but, Sam Winnall misses out through injury whist Chris Baird completes his 3 match suspension.
Player to watch: Matej Vydra
The 25 year old Czech striker just loves scoring against Forest, including the opener after less than 30 seconds at Pride Park in October, and is definitely a player that Aitor Karanka needs to focus on.
With 18 goals in 33 appearances, Vydra is top scorer for Rowett`s men – 17 of those are league goals and David Prutton is backing Matej to open the scoring this weekend.
Match Facts & Stats
Derby have faltered in recent weeks, after a run of 6 games without a win but they still sit 5th in the table with 61 points from 36 games, (w16, d13, l7). With just 1 win in 9 games, they are now 9 points behind Cardiff in the automatic promotion places and 4 points ahead of Bristol City on 7th.
The Rams are strong defensively, having only conceded 34 league goals, but with 55 scored, only 3 other teams have scored more.
Forest extended their recent unbeaten run, with the battling 0-0 at Carrow Road, to 5 games – after finally securing a home win for Aitor Karanka last weekend.
The Reds remain 15th in the Championship table, with 44 points from 36 games (w13, d5, l18), scoring 43 but conceding 54 – however, a run of 4 games without defeat and just 1 away defeat in their last 6 games has seen them solidify that mid table position.
Jeremy Simpson has been appointed as Sunday`s Referee, which will be his 34th game in charge this season, the previous 33 have seen him award 137 yellow and 5 red cards. Last season he officiated 40 games, with a return of 166 yellows and 6 red cards.
Mr Simpson will be assisted Nigel Lugg and Michael George, with Andrew Madley as Fourth Official.
The Bookies see very little between the sides, which is backed up by former Forest midfielder, David Prutton, predicting 2-2, the same scoreline as last season.
Using that old cliché, ‘form often goes out of the window’ when the 2 sides from opposite ends of the Brian Clough Way meet, but the pressure will be on Derby to maintain their push for the playoffs in what is likely to be a fierce encounter (1-1 seems a fair bet).
Forest make the short trip up the M1 to face Chris Wilder`s Blade at Brammall Lane on Saturday, 17th March (KO 3-00pm).