Writer: Peter Simcox
Date:Saturday March 1 2008
Rams v Sunderland - Preview
Sunderland arrives at Pride Park on Saturday (3pm) and for once the Rams go into the game as favourites with the Black Cats having the worst away record in the Premier League.
Roy Keane`s side have only gained two points on their travels this season, so the Rams will hope their poor form continues this weekend.
It`s getting desperate for the Rams and after the poor performance at Wigan last week Paul Jewell will hope for a vast improvement against Sunderland.
Jewell has had his side in for extra training after he described last week's 2-0 defeat at Wigan as 'embarrassing' and will be without Giles Barnes, who injured a knee in training on Wednesday. He will undergo a scan once the swelling has gone down.
"Unfortunately, he twisted his knee when we were playing in training. There was no-one else around him," said Jewell.
Barnes again has been the subject of transfer speculation; the 19-year-old was again linked with West Ham United. The Rams rejected a £1.5m offer from Newcastle United for Barnes before the window closed and also turned down a cheeky loan bid from Sheffield United.
"I spoke to Alan Curbishley before the transfer deadline and asked him what the rumours were," Jewell said.
"He told me he made an inquiry last year and this year he hasn't been interested.
"Yes, I want to keep Giles Barnes here because he's only 19 and has got bags of potential. That's all he is at the moment, potential."
On the extra sessions Jewell defended his decision. He said: "I`m sure there are lots of managers up and down the country who have had their teams in earlier than my team so it's no boot camp, that's a load of nonsense.
'It's a fantastic training facility and they've worked a little bit harder than usual, that's all they've done.
'There's been one double session but that was because I had a coaching clinic in the afternoon, there's no ulterior motive.'
In other team news Dean Leacock faces a late fitness test on a hip problem that forced him off in the Wigan defeat.
There is also talk of Robbie Savage being rested, for the clash. The skipper, who hasn`t fully recovered from injury, has put in two lack lustre performances in recent weeks.
Another who will not feature is French winger Laurent Robert. He is on a contract until the end of the season, has made three appearances. "Laurent has not done well enough in training or the games," said Jewell.
New signing Mile Sterjovski could make his first start for the Rams against the Black Cats.
The Australian international has made two appearances as a substitute since signing from Turkish club Genclerbirligi in the January window and is likely to get the nod to face Sunderland.
"He has been bright since he's come in and is due a start," said Jewell.
"Mile has worked hard on his fitness. He can play wide right and left, or down the middle and he is going to be a good player for us."
Roy Keane's men arrive having lost their last ten away from the Stadium of Light, but will fancy their chances of breaking their run, as they picked up their biggest ever away win in the Premier League with a 5-0 win at Derby in 1999.
They are without the suspended Danny Collins, but Danny Higginbotham is back in the squad after a toe injury. Kieran Richardson is 50-50 with his hamstring injury and Liam Miller could play despite being transfer-listed.
Keane believes it will be tough games against the rock bottom Rams.
He said: 'If you put yourself in their shoes, they'll think, 'If ever we can get a win, it will be playing Sunderland with their away form'.
'A couple of months ago, we beat them with an injury-time winner, so it's not as if we're a lot stronger than them.
'It was a very tough game and I think it'll be the same on Saturday.'
Derby (from): Carroll, Leacock, Moore, Todd, Stubbs, McEveley, Lewis, Edworthy, Savage, Fagan, Pearson, Jones, Miller, Earnshaw, Ghaly, Villa, Robert, Price, Sterjovski.
Sunderland (from): Gordon, Fulop, Bardsley, McShane, Evans, Higginbotham, Harte, Whitehead, Etuhu, Reid, Leadbitter, Miller, Richardson, O'Donovan, Jones, Waghorn, Murphy, Stokes, Chopra, Prica.
Referee Mike Riley (Leeds, Yorkshire)
Date:Saturday March 1 2008
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