Derby County have had a bit of a rollercoaster start to the season – what have you made of what you’ve seen so far?
Consistently inconsistent sums it up really, highlighted by the fact they followed up a 5-0 win over Hull City with a 4-1 defeat at Bristol City. It’s becoming a real source of frustration for Gary Rowett; he’s looking to string together back-to-back performances but he’s just not able to get that at the moment.
The club has been painfully close to a Premier League return in recent years – do you think they can break their hoodoo this campaign?
It’s not looking overly promising based on current form, but that is obviously the aim and has been for quite a few years since they got so close in the 2014 Play-Off Final, losing 1-0 to Queens Park Rangers. The hope after that disappointment was that they would go one step better - and they have threatened to do that - but they’ve just not done quite enough. It’s a difficult one because Rowett has been brought in to change the makeup of the team and the style of play to try and achieve that. If anything they are looking further away, but there’s still a long way to go.
Of the five new faces Gary Rowett added to his ranks this summer, who has had the biggest impact so far?
Tom Lawrence is probably the most exciting, though he came in pretty recently so he’s not really had a chance to show what he can do yet. They paid good money to get him from Leicester City - where he was quite highly thought of – and he’s appeared for Wales in their World Cup qualifiers. He was brought in to replace Tom Ince who was the main supplier of goals last season, and to a certain extent the club will be looking for something similar in an attacking sense. Andre Wisdom has been matured since re-joining from Liverpool and the fans were delighted to see Tom Huddlestone return to the club where he started out. He’s a wonderful passer of the ball and he’s certainly caught the eye, but he’s not had it all his own way by any stretch.
If you could bring one member of Dean Smith’s squad to Pride Park, who would it be?
It’s tempting to go for the players who catch the eye in an attacking sense, but I quite like the midfield pairing of Nico Yennaris and Ryan Woods. They do the dirty work and I think Derby are lacking a player like that.
Can I push you for a score prediction?
Based on the approach I’m expecting, I’ll go for a thrilling 0-0 draw. That’s what Derby need, a good solid performance and a clean sheet away from home.
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