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Derby County make the short trip to rivals Nottingham Forest on Saturday looking to build on their 2-0 victory against struggling Middlesbrough last time out, and aiming to regain some ground on the teams above them in the Championship table.
Philip Cocu’s side’s win against Middlesbrough last weekend was their fourth successive home league win, the last three of which have all come with the Rams keeping clean sheets, which kept Derby just four points behind 5th placed Nottingham Forest heading into the weekend.
However, Derby’s poor form away from home is halting their ability to make a real push for the play-off places, with the Rams losing their last two matches on their travels, meaning they have not won away from home since beating Huddersfield Town 2-1 on the opening day of the campaign.
Derby will head to the City Ground looking to improve on that recent record and also avenge their 3-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup back in August – and a win would see Cocu’s side move back to within a point of their rivals in the Championship table.
Cocu’s side’s hopes of picking up a vital result on Saturday will not be helped by the absence of defender Scott Malone, who was forced off with a knee injury in the Rams’ win against Middlesbrough last time out, but that setback will provide fellow defender Max Lowe with a real opportunity to cement his pace in the side at left-back.
Lowe has proven himself to be a very versatile figure at Derby, making 13 appearances in the Championship so far this term and operating both at right-back when Jayden Bogle was out injured, and also at left-back when Cocu has elected to place Malone on the bench for certain games.
However, after finding himself on the bench for three successive matches following the Rams’ 2-2 draw at Barnsley at the start of October, Lowe was recalled to the starting line-up for Derby’s most recent away match at Hull City, but he struggled to really lay down a strong marker with Cocu’s side making a couple of key defensive mistakes as they fell to a 2-0 defeat.
That saw Lowe drop back down to the bench against Middlesbrough, and with the Rams comfortable in defence throughout most of the contest it looked as though the defender might have to wait a while before getting back in the side, but Malone’s injury late on in the game has handed him another chance to stake a claim for a starting spot.
Lowe offers plenty of energy down either side of the pitch and has the ability to provide support to Derby’s attacks on the overlap, but at times his end product lets him down, whilst he switches off at times at the other end allowing opponents to create chances down his side – and he will need to show that he can improve his attacking output and defensive concentration levels against Nottingham Forest on Saturday.