Derby County were one of my promotion picks for this season and their start has been a little bit more hesitant than I expected, albeit the same in terms of points as us. After Saturday's 0-0 draw with the Massives at Hillsborough, manager Steve McClaren demanded greater quality in front of goal. Derby are pleased to be going to The Valley early in the season before the pitch deteriorates (what was all that work over the summer for?): Derby County
Some chances were missed, but the Rams will be hard to break down, having had three clean sheets so far this season. Keeper Lee Grant did very well for Derby on Saturday, dealing confidently with anything that came his way. Another good player for Derby on Saturday was Craig Bryson who was 'full of running.' Bryson was selected as the key player at the Rams by Four Four Two. They said: 'The energetic pocket Scot was the Rams' unsung hero last season. A hard-working midfielder who can change a match with a burst of pace and a fine finish'.
It will be a tough test for Nick Pope tonight with Henderson unlikely to be fit, but I feel confident about the youngster. He is certainly ready: Terminator Pope. In front of him he will have the huge frame of Bikey who bullied Riera out of the game on Saturday with Tel Ben Haim also giving the Wigan forwards some nightmares. Having watched the highlights of the game, I fail to see why the young Bloke Behind Me was dismissing Buyens as useless. Perhaps he didn't get many chances to go box to box, but he contributed a great deal.
The jury is still out on George Tucudean. On Saturday he failed to use one good lay off and lost possession a number of times, but improved as the game went on. According to the Football League Paper Jordan Cousins 'looked very comfortable on the left' so perhaps I was wrong in preferring him to be played in central midfield.
I would not expect Big Bob Peeters to tinker with the team too much. Hopefully, Solly will be up to another match so soon after the last one. Wilson can take his place, but he is often at his best in combination with Solly.
I am going for a draw and our local Ram thinks that I may well be right. He commented, 'We don't really seem to have settled yet.' Let's hope they remain unsettled tonight. Two of the last three encounters at The Valley have been draws, but we lost 0-2 last year. Indeed, the Rams beat us soundly in both matches last year, so if we can give them a game and take something from it, that will be progress.
Odds are Charlton 9/4; draw 9/4; Derby 6/5. Referee Michael Bull is from Essex, but is not known to be a friend of Andy d'Urso.
I am looking forward to tonight and hopefully will not make the same mistake as the Millwall fans who ended up on the wrong side of the river when they went in a boat to Fulham. Saturday's match analyst Mustang will not be able to get away from his day job at Kingdom Signs and was also somewhat affronted at being driven in a Toyota rather than his customary BMW convertible. Senior match analyst Ivy will be returning to support her fellow Belgians.