Derby County face a huge challenge in their bid for Championship safety tonight when they travel to Deepdale to face Preston North End.
Wayne Rooney and his side are looking desperately over their shoulder with just four games remaining, and they’re mainly looking at Rotherham United who have two games in hand on the Rams.
The matches may come too quick for their Millers in their attempt to escape the drop to League One once again, but all Derby can do is win matches to put themselves in the best possible position – something they haven’t been doing recently.
County have won just one of their last 10 matches and the management life isn’t going quite the way that Rooney would have planned it to go.
What Rooney now needs is for all his squad to be ready for the battle they face over the next 360 minutes of Championship action – but he’ll have to do without Teden Mengi.
The Manchester United teenager’s loan has been cut short after he suffered a hamstring injury which ruled him out of the Blackburn Rovers defeat on Friday.
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Hamstring injuries seem to be hampering more Derby loanees as Beni Baningme and Lee Gregory will both be absent once again from the squad for that exact reason, and another player who has had trouble with a hamstring in Jordon Ibe is still probably not ready for first-team football but is building his fitness up in training.
The absentee list doesn’t stop there as young striker Jack Stretton won’t be back for the rest of the season due to a calf injury and defender George Edmundson’s recovery from a hernia may also rule him out of the final four games.
There is one piece of positive news though as Martyn Waghorn will return to bolster Rooney’s attacking options – the 31-year-old has missed three matches in a row due to injury but he’s fit enough to return to try and down the Lilywhites at Deepdale.
Predicted Derby line-up (4-2-3-1): Marshall; Byrne, Wisdom, Clarke, Buchanan; Bird, Shinnie; Jozwiak, Knight, Lawrence; Kazim-Richards.