Derby County are heading into the biggest game of their season next weekend as they face Sheffield Wednesday at Pride Park in a relegation six-pointer.
Many thought the only way was up for the Rams this season after a mid-table finish in 2019/20, but it’s not panned out that way whatsoever and they are one of the three teams that could still go down with two places to realistically fill.
Wayne Rooney would have wanted his side safe by now and squad and transfer plans made for next season, however after a string of poor results they’re now fighting for their lives on the final day of the campaign.
Let’s look at the latest news and words coming out of Pride Park ahead of a massive week for Derby County.
Rooney speaks out ahead of Wednesday crunch clash
Wayne Rooney would have been happy after Tom Lawrence gave his side the lead in the second half at the Liberty Stadium yesterday, however things soon collapsed and the Rams ended the game in defeat.
Rooney’s simple message post-match following the game ahead of the battle with Sheffield Wednesday was this: “We have to go and win the game, it’s as simple as that.”
It might not be that easy though – with Rotherham having a game in midweek they would go above the Rams with a victory over Luton, and should both the Millers and Derby win on the final day following that then it would go down to goal difference, with Rotherham having a big advantage there.
The big 22-question Derby County end of season quiz – Can you score 100% on this?
Monk thinks Derby have disadvantage over Owls
One man who knows all about Derby’s opponents on the final day is Garry Monk, a former Sheffield Wednesday manager as recent as the beginning of this season, and he believes that the Owls hold an advantage over the Rams mentally.
“For the teams below Derby, maybe it’s a bit easier in terms of mentality because it is that last chance,” said Monk, per the Sheffield Star.
“There are no other games after this, they need to go for it.”
Recent results would tend to suggest that Wednesday have an advantage on the pitch as well as mentally, but it will all be decided on Sunday.
Malone set for permanent Millwall switch
One player who was outcast in the summer was left-back Scott Malone, who ended up making a loan switch to Millwall for the season.
The 30-year-old has impressed in London, scoring five goals and nailing down the role of left-wing-back in Gary Rowett’s system, and he has admitted that a deal is close to bring Malone to The Den on a permanent basis.
Out of contract at the end of the season, Derby won’t receive a fee for Malone and fans may now think after seeing how effective he’s been for the Lions that he could have had a part to play in County’s season after all.