As we approach the business end of the season, Derby County and Huddersfield Town meet at the iPro Stadium this afternoon sitting at different ends of the Sky Bet Championship.
Derby County are sitting pretty in fifth ahead of this fixture, whereas Huddersfield Town find themselves heading towards a lower-table finish to the season in 17th.
There are no fresh injury concerns for Derby, as Will Hughes has been back in full training for over a week following a long-term knee injury that has put him out of action for six months.
For Huddersfield, they face a battle to replace Jonathan Hogg, who was ruled out for six weeks on Wednesday.
Both of these sides typify the inconsistency of the Championship in their last four fixtures. Derby have lost two and won two, whilst David Wagner’s Terriers have managed to pick up seven points from their last four fixtures, including wins over Nottingham Forest and Wolves.
The last time these two sides met back in October, Derby ran out 2-1 winners at the John Smith’s Stadium thanks to goals from Chris Martin and George Thorne. The Rams saw the narrow win take them into fifth position in the league at the time, which is where they currently sit before the reverse fixture is played.
FootballLeagueWorld writer Reece Chambers identifies THREE things to look out for in this afternoon’s encounter…
1) Derby are in contention
The importance of every game for Derby County cannot be underestimated at this stage of the season.
They are being chased by a pack of three teams outside the play-offs who are just six points behind.
In recent seasons, Derby have failed to cross the final hurdle in a play-off race and manager Darren Wassall will be eager to show the fans that this will not happen again.
As a result, this fixture is one they will look to win with some ease, as Huddersfield seem to be heading for a non-eventful finish in the league.
2) Huddersfield’s precarious position
Wagner’s men are a reasonable ten points above the relegation zone with 12 games still to play, but the Huddersfield boss is still adamant they want to play the game in the correct manner, even if the season appears to be fizzling out for the Terriers.
Yet, with Rotherham United winning last weekend and themselves losing, the gap between the Terriers and the relegation places in now ten points. It’s probably enough for relegation to not be a concern, but another defeat today could raise the anxiety levels in West Yorkshire.
A monumental downfall would need to occur to see his side drop down into a relegation battle, but with other sides around them picking up points, Wagner will need to ensure that his men are on top form to secure their status of a Sky Bet Championship side
3) Derby’s attack prowess
Derby’s financial superiority in the league has meant they are able to secure the likes of Nick Blackman and Tom Ince this season.
And, as we have seen, their additions have been nothing short of effective.
Ince has scored vital goals this season when the team need to grind out a performance. With Chris Martin and Jacob Butterfield also amongst their ranks, they will be looking to help their side reach the Premier League again.
What is most impressive for Derby is the amount of attacking options they have. In recent seasons, they have had to rely on Martin for the goals and when he has been injured, their form has taken a hit.
However, with the additions of Butterfield, Ince and Blackman, the Rams are an incredibly strong side. Therefore, you should certainly be looking out for goals when they take on a struggling Huddersfield this weekend.
Derby and Huddersfield fans… what do you think the score will be? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!