Derby County host Middlesbrough on Saturday aiming to build on their first win of the Championship season against Hull City on Wednesday night.
Wayne Rooney’s side had managed to pick up just one point from their opening two games against Huddersfield Town and Peterborough United despite taking the lead in both of those matches.
However, against Hull, Rooney called upon both Phil Jagielka and Sam Baldock to make their debuts for the Rams and both players played a pivotal role in helping Derby record a crucial first three points of the campaign.
The Rams were able to keep Hull at bay for most of the game with Jagielka proving to be a calming influence in their back four.
While Baldock was lively upfront and he managed to get himself a couple of chances in the final third and managed to take one of those to notch the only goal of the contest.
That win will have taken some of the early season pressure of Derby and means they can aim to build some momentum now by attempting to inflict a second successive defeat on Middlesbrough, who were beaten 3-2 in an entertaining game against ten-man QPR on Wednesday.
Considering the small squad and all of the issues that they are having to contend with off the field at the start of the campaign, Derby will be pleased to head into Saturday’s contest with Middlesbrough with four points on the board.
That is incidentally the same amount of points as their opponents who are fancied to challenge for the play-offs.
Derby still have some long-term injury issues within their squad that are going to affect them for a few months yet.
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Krystian Bielik remains on the sidelines as he continues to recover from the ACL injury that he suffered last season.
While Jason Knight is also continuing to recover from the ankle injury that he suffered during the Rams’ pre-season training. Rooney has recently told the media that he could potentially be available after the next international break next month.
The Rams have also suffered a major blow with Colin Kazim-Richards having suffered a nasty Achilles injury that forced him off the field during their defeat at Peterborough United.
The forward is believed to be set to be out of action for a good few months that could be as many as six or nine months. No timescale has been placed on his return at this point.
There is some more positive news for the Rams on the injury front heading into the Middlesbrough game, with young prospect Kornell McDonald set to return to training ahead of their League Cup clash against Sheffield United next week, but this game will come too early for him.
While Lee Buchanan came through the 61 minutes that he was on the field for against Hull on his return to action following a thigh problem.
The defender could therefore be available for selection once again against Middlesbrough on Saturday. That comes after assistant boss Liam Rosenior insisted he was taken off against the Tigers as a precaution on his return.
Rosenior also provided a positive update on the condition of Festy Ebosele after he missed out on the win against Hull with a knee issue.
He suggested that the knee issue was another flare-up from a similar problem he suffered in pre-season but that he should be ready to return to action against Middlesbrough.
Finally, Tom Lawrence’s absence from the win at Hull was described as precautionary by Rosenior with him admitting that he had felt discomfort in his hamstring and therefore was not risked for the win at Hull. The Derby captain though could return to action against Middlesbrough.