Derby County face Stoke City tonight in the SkyBet Championship knowing that anything less than a victory will be a disappointment, as they look to finish the season in the play-off places.
The Rams are currently seventh in the league table, level on points with Bristol City, who climbed back into the top six last night despite only drawing at home to bottom club Ipswich.
After that result at Ashton Gate and with several other teams in the play-off mix in action this evening, tonight’s game represents a big opportunity for Derby.
A win would send an important message to the rest of the teams in the play-off hunt and the Rams’ hopes of a top-six finish have been boosted massively by the return of winger Tom Lawrence, who as reported by the Derby Telegraph, is available for tonight’s game after missing the last six matches with an ankle injury.
News of his potential return tonight will no doubt excite Derby supporters, who have seen their side suffer some disappointing results over the past few weeks.
The Rams have lacked creativity in midfield in recent games, only managing to win one of their last six league matches, and have been crying out for a player of Lawrence’s quality.
He is one of the most underrated midfielders in the Championship and his ability to unlock defences with his vision and creativity will act as a massive boost for Derby’s play-off hopes.
It remains to be seen whether the Welshman will be fit enough to start against the Potters tonight or whether he will have to settle for a place on the bench.
Either way though, his return appears to have come at the best possible time for Frank Lampard, ahead of some big games that look set to decide the play-off picture.