The stage is set for a cracking East Midlands Derby on Saturday lunchtime with Nottingham Forest looking to kick on towards the play-offs at the City Ground.
Phil Jagielka’s departure has paved the way for Richard Stearman to earn more regular minutes for Derby County and the 34-year-old explained his excitement to play in the fixture for the first time, when he spoke to RamsTV, with quotes provided by the club’s website.
He said: “I’ve watched a few of these fixtures from afar and it’s certainly one I want to be involved in so fingers crossed I get the nod for the weekend and I can experience it for myself.
“All derby fixtures are special in their own way and carry a bit of spice.
“I’m sure this one is going to be no different so it’s a game I’m certainly looking forward to being involved in and hopefully we can come out on the right side of a result.
“Hopefully we can give the supporters something to smile about on Saturday.”
In spite of the challenges that the January transfer window has posed, and the resultant departures of Graeme Shinnie and Jagielka, the Rams have performed excellently to pick up four points from their two league outings this month.
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The long term concerns off of the pitch may overshadow the narrative ahead of the East Midlands Derby, but the league table also presents plenty to play for on both sides.
13 points from their last five games has seen Derby overtake Barnsley into 23rd place and has reduced the gap from safety to eight points.
Still very steep, but an outstanding achievement given all that has been thrown at them on and off the pitch.
Forest have lost just three of their last 19 league games and are six points off of the play-offs.
The Rams may be spurred on even more to scupper the Reds’ top six hopes and bolster their chances of staying up simultaneously, in what will also be the first East Midlands Derby for Forest manager Steve Cooper.