Rams boss Nigel Clough will celebrate four years at Pride Park this season, if celebrate is the word. He is still looking for his first top-ten finish and so far it's been a continual battle in the lower reaches. He has assembled a young and hungry team, but it needs a bit more quality.
In the pre-season predictions, Four Four Two had the Rams in 18th place. This was also the view of The Times, while the Football League Paper had them one place above the relegation places in 21st.
Even so, the Rams are the favourites to win tomorrow night with Coral putting them at 6/5 with a draw and a Charlton win both at 9/4. However, the 'easy three points' view emanating fromm Pride Park may be a touch premature.
Derby's Young Player of the Year Jeff Hendrick was talked up a lot pre-season and there were rumours of interest in the midfielder from Villa and the Baggies. However, against Huddersfield he struggled and was unable to dominate his opponents in central midfield.
In goal Frank Fielding is rated as one of the division's best keepers. John Brayford gets forward at every available opportunity while Richard Keogh commands the defence well and makes a nuisance of himself at the other end. Skipper and centre half Shaun Barker is out all season as he recovers from major knee surgery. Barker can amuse himself playing vinyl records as a joke plea for them on Twitter led to him being inundated with one fan sending him 300 alone.
Jamie Ward was Derby's best player against Huddersfield and offer their most potent attacking threat. Conor Sammon showed plenty of energy and determination, but there was no end product and he was eventually replaced by Theo Robinson. Despite taking an even share of the possession, the Rams only had one shot on target all game.
No one would blame Chris Powell for being bold, even if it didn't work out, although the loss of Wiggins could lead him to be cautious. Kermorgant, whose presence tends to encourage the long ball, could be replaced by Fuller. Pritchard could be replaced by Green, if one is prepared to gamble that Green can improve his decent crosses ratio: the approach can inspire, but the end product often does not. Dropping the skipper could be contentious, and is unlikely.
I am going for a 2-1 win for the Rams.