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Derby County

Experience of midfield maestro might make the difference for Derby if they face Leeds

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Derby County still have it all to do in their play-off chase after being held to a 1-1 draw by Swansea City on Wednesday night.

Frank Lampard’s side could have effectively confirmed their sixth-placed finish with victory at the Liberty Stadium, but Wayne Routledge struck in the second half to cancel out Richard Keogh’s opener.

However, the Rams are still in the driving seat to extend their season, as victory against West Bromwich Albion on Sunday will be enough to ensure they are competing in the play-off semi-finals on Saturday May 11.

Should they reach this stage, it is looking increasingly likely that Derby will face Leeds United as Marcelo Bielsa’s side can cement their third-placed finish with a point against already-relegated Ipswich Town.

If the sides meet, this will be a difficult task for Lampard’s men, as Leeds have looked destined for promotion all season and have only dropped off the pace with a couple of damaging defeats in the last fortnight.

Furthermore, the Whites have thrashed Derby twice this season after Bielsa’s side won 4-1 at Pride Park in August and 2-0 at Elland Road earlier this year.

There is also an extra edge added to the clash by the fact these were the two teams involved in the ‘spygate’ incident where Bielsa was found guilty of sending an employee to watch Derby train ahead of their encounter.

Given Leeds’ comfortable victories over the Rams, this semi-final may appear to look a foregone conclusion before it has even been confirmed, but Derby might just have a secret weapon up their sleeve.

Tom Huddlestone did not feature in either of Derby’s defeats to Leeds, and his inclusion in the side could help give Derby an extra edge against Leeds’ style of play.

When they are at their best, Bielsa’s side barely allow their opposition time to breathe on the ball, which led to Derby becoming flustered in previous meetings.

However, Huddlestone brings a calmness to Derby’s play that few others can replicate. He possesses the ability to slow the game down before picking out a sensible pass that can spearhead Derby’s attacks.

The former Tottenham Hotspur has been in and out of the side this season, but his inclusion against Swansea and Bristol City suggests he is very much in Lampard’s thinking ahead of the potential Leeds clash – and that’s good news for the Rams.


ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Experience of midfield maestro might make the difference for Derby if they face Leeds

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