Derby Telegraph's Chief Football Writer Steve Nicholson gives the inside track on tomorrow's opponents
It's been another interesting season at the iPro Stadium, how would you sum it up?
The Derby squad has enough quality in it that it should be in the top six. Newcastle United and Brighton and Hove Albion have done really well this season and Huddersfield Town have surprised a lot of people. When you compare them to the Derby, Norwich City, or Fulham squad it shows how well they have done. With the likes of Jacob Butterfield, Johnny Russell, Will Hughes, and Bradley Johnson at the iPro it would be a disappointment if the season ends and Derby don’t make the top six, but when you change managers as much as Derby do then it is maybe no surprise.
Derby are seven points off the Play-Offs, is that too much at this stage of the season?
The gap between Derby and Sheffield Wednesday is seven points but they still have to play each other at Hillsborough. They both have tough matches to get out of the way before then. The key for Derby is just to keep winning matches and that’s why the last gasp goal against Birmingham City last time out was so important. There is no room for error for Derby and they are also relying on others. All they can do is win games which, in this division, is easier said than done.
More pre-match build-up
How has Gary Rowett adjusted to life at Derby County?
It could easily have been 12 points from 12 for Gary if Nottingham Forest hadn’t scored in the 94th minute. Under Steve McClaren it sometimes looked a bit complicated. He stuck to one way of playing and Gary Rowett has come in and he has got the basics right. If you can get the basics right then more often than not the wins will follow. His style is not massively different. There are a few little tweaks and they now work harder without the ball than they did under McClaren. In this division you have to able to work without the ball. The 4-2 win over Fulham came with just 29 per cent possession for Derby.
How do you see Derby shaping up for tomorrow's match?
Last time out at Griffin Park Brentford played well for 70 minutes before Derby scored three in ten minutes to win it. Everyone knows that Brentford will look to play good football. Gary Rowett likes to adapt his approach depending on who they are up against. He knew that QPR would be a battle. Fulham he gave them the ball as he knew that they could punish Fulham on the break and Birmingham City was a battle again. Tomorrow he will know that when they have the ball they can play and without the ball they will be set up in a total counter-attacking style. It should be a good footballing match. They have got to win if they want to keep the pressure on the teams above them. Rowett made more attacking subs than you normally would at 1-1 against Birmingham City last time out. Dave Nugent scored a hat-trick against Fulham but I’m not sure whether he will start of Darren Bent up front.
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