Phillip Cocu, it seems, is still yet to decide on his favoured Derby County XI with the Dutchman not naming the same starting line-up for more than three consecutive matches this season.
Of course, injuries have played their part in the situation. The Rams have suffered blows to the likes of Jayden Bogle, Duane Holmes, Tom Huddlestone, George Evans, Jack Marriott and Richard Keogh since the season commenced.
Cocu’s side are in a poor run of form in front of goal too, scoring just one goal in their last three matches. In that run, they were hammered 3-0 by Charlton Athletic and got bettered 2-0 at Hull City sandwiching a fortunate 1-0 home victory against Wigan Athletic.
Whilst Derby’s away form has been treacherous this season, Pride Park has become something of a fortress; the Rams have lost just one game at their own ground and that came in August.
Therefore, they will fancy their chances when they host struggling Middlesbrough in the east Midlands on Saturday and here we look at TWO changes the boss should consider for the game…
Starting Jack Marriott ahead of Kieran Dowell
Cocu tried to implement Dowell back into the team for Derby’s last match against Hull after the attacking midfielder hadn’t featured for the Rams since their 3-0 defeat to Brentford at the end of August.
The Everton loanee hasn’t impressed for Derby this season and was sarcastically cheered off the pitch when he was substituted off in that crushing defeat to the Bees. With just one assist to his name all season, Dowell – it’s fair to say – hasn’t had the same impact on the Derby fans as last season’s number eight did – Mason Mount.
On the other hand, Marriott is a willing runner and would be perfect to circle around and win second balls off of Chris Martin. Switching from a 4-2-3-1 to a two-striker formation would make Derby more of a threat going forward too.
Bringing back Andre Wisdom
Wisdom has been ruled out for the majority of the season through injury but was included in the matchday squad for the first time against Hull last weekend. Meanwhile, Clarke has failed to make much of an impact at Derby and looks shot of confidence, with the Rams keeping just three clean sheets all season.
Derby need a physical and experienced presence to partner alongside the experienced Curtis Davies. And, Wisdom can be that player.
Seldom has the former-Liverpool player played in a central-defensive role for Derby since his arrival in 2017, but he did play in that position for Red Bull Salzburg in the season before when they finished as champions of the Austrian Bundesliga so he can do a job if needed and should get a chance on Saturday.