This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict’ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Derby County make the short trip to Nottingham Forest on Saturday lunchtime with Phillip Cocu’s side looking to find some form on the road, having managed four straight wins at Pride Park while their away form has been disappointing.
Ahead of the trip the Derby Telegraph reports that the Rams only injury concern relates to defender Scott Malone, who is sidelined with a knee injury picked up last-time out against Middlesbrough.
So is the loss of Malone for the Forest clash a big blow for the Rams or can they cope?
“It’s not ideal but it’s something they can cope with.
“Malone is a good player but they have Max Lowe who can step up and he has shown this season that he is a decent performer, even if he is inconsistent at times.
“But, he is a left-back so it’s not like Cocu has to put someone in an unnatural position or give minutes to an untested kid.
“It’s going to be a big afternoon for Lowe in such a hostile environment but it’s an opportunity he should be relishing and it will be interesting to see how he does.”
“Scott Malone’s absence for the derby clash against Nottingham Forest will certainly be a blow to Philip Cocu, as he looks to improve the Rams’ recent form on their travels which has halted them from gaining any real momentum so far this term. And having performed fairly well until he was subbed off against Middlesbrough, Malone’s presence will be missed.
“Derby, though, in the shape of Max Lowe have another useful option to come in the defence and help the Rams’ deal with the loss of Malone, and although he has not enjoyed the most consistent of starts to the season, he has still proven himself to be a capable performer when called upon.
“Lowe started Derby’s recent defeat at Hull in the left-back position, but he was guilty, along with the rest of the Rams’ defence, of making a couple of important mistakes to enable Hull to create opportunities and put the game out of their reach.
“Malone’s absence will be a miss for Derby, but it also provides an opportunity for Lowe to establish himself back into the side after being left out at times in the last few weeks, so he should be highly motivated to put in a strong performance against Nottingham Forest.”
Can Derby County cope with the loss of Scott Malone against Forest?
“I think this will be a concern for Derby.
“Malone has been a regular presence in the Rams’ side in the league this season, and they are not going to want something such as this to disturb the foundations that they are starting to build.
“Indeed, when you look at their results with and without Malone in the league this season, things do not make for positive reading for those of a Derby persuasion. The Rams have taken just two points from the four games they have played without him, in comparison to the 19 picked up in the 11 games he has featured in.
“It seems therefore that Malone will be something of a miss for Derby on Saturday, and the fact that that keeps him out of a game with their closest rivals, will do little to help the Rams mood heading into what is a huge clash for both sides.”