After suffering back-to-back 3-0 defeats, Derby County are without a win in their last five games in all competitions.
In the Championship, Derby haven’t won since the opening game of the season when they travelled to Huddersfield. Phillip Cocu is finding out the hard way just how demanding and difficult the division can be.
With injured players returning, though, here are two changes Cocu might want to consider ahead of Cardiff City tomorrow.
Tom Huddlestone out
Earlier this week, Cocu revealed that record signing Krystian Bielik is ready to start in central midfield. The player arrived from Arsenal as a midfielder but has only appeared for Derby as a central defender since his arrival.
Fitness has pushed the promising player back into the heart of the defence where his ability on the ball is undoubtably wasted. Now, though, he is ready to fulfil his role in midfield which will come as a massive boost for Derby. His physicality will be pivotal for the Rams when hey take on a side like Cardiff.
Matt Clarke should take his place next to Richard Keogh after the new signing was dropped for his performance in the 3-0 defeat to East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest. Other than that game, Clarke has showed promising signs in a Derby shirt, particularly in their 0-0 draw to current leaders Swansea City.
Tom Huddlestone may make way in midfield. The veteran has been far from his usual best in recent matches and is too similar to Bielik in style. The experienced player can’t match the speed or energy Bielik brings and may, therefore, be forced to the bench.
Duane Holmes for Kieran Dowell
Kieran Dowell has probably been the most underwhelming signing for the Rams so far. With just one assist since arriving from Everton on loan, Dowell has struggled to make any real impact on the side. Sarcastic cheers rang around when he was substituted in the 3-0 defeat to Brentford last time out after another disappointing display in a Derby shirt.
Paradoxically, Duane Holmes received and overwhelming cheer on his return to Championship football at Griffin Park. The midfielder has been absent from the team all season through injury but is back to full fitness ahead of Cardiff. The fan favourite brings an energy to midfield that Derby have so desperately lacked all season. His introduction alone will give the players and supporters a huge much-needed boost.