Writer: Peter Simcox
Date:Saturday August 1 2009
Rams v Potters - Preview
Derby County Vs. Stoke City
Saturday 1st August, kick off 1pm
Pride Park Stadium
The Rams finalise their 2009 pre-season with a game against Premier League side Stoke city at Pride Park on Saturday (1pm)
The Rams have again been backed for the season ahead with over 20,000 season tickets having been sold, and tomorrow`s game against The Potters is free to all season ticket holders, as part of the added value in this year's package.
For Rams boss Nigel Clough and his coaching staff, it's the last opportunity to get the right formation together ahead of the big Championship kick off, next weekend against Peterborough United.
Clough told the official club site, dcfc.co.uk, tomorrow is an important exercise for the season ahead. "This will be our biggest test of pre season and in many ways our most important.
'Stoke City are an excellent side with some very talented players; they did superbly well in the Premier League last season and they'll be even stronger this time round," said Clough.
He was happy with the lead up games for the club and believes the new squad members have settled in well but with injuries to a number of players this has hampered his perpetration for the season.
'Our warm up campaign has been good; we've played some good football, tried out some new ideas and the players have applied themselves well to everything we have asked of them.
'The only down point has been the injuries we have accumulated along the way. A number of key players will be missing tomorrow, but at this stage it is too early to say whether or not they'll be available come opening day.
'Ideally we want to field our strongest side possible; with it being just seven days before it all starts for real, but it would be foolish to risk anyone who is not 100%, so we won't.
'That means players like Chris Porter and Rob Hulse won't feature; a couple of others we will assess on the morning of the game," added Clough.
With the new season just around the corner Clough praised the clubs loyal supporters and believes their loyalty will go along way to get the Rams back on track this season. 'It's great that the game is free of charge to our season ticket holders. That will ensure we get a bigger crowd than normally comes for a pre season game and start creating that special Pride Park match day atmosphere early.
'Our home matches are going to be vital for us this campaign and we will need you, the supporters, to be vocal from the first kick of the first game, until the last kick of our final contest,' said Clough
City drew 1-1 with Nottingham Forest at the City Ground last week and coach Tony Pulis believes the Potters are well on track in their pre-season preparations and he believes that results mean nothing and said that he was happy with how the fitness levels of the players is continuously improving.
'I thought we did very well again against Forest. We're not quite fully in the groove yet but we are certainly getting there. We looked very good at times on Wednesday and I thought we really cut them open in the second half and should have won the game comfortably.
'I keep saying it but results really don't mean anything to me at this stage. It is all about making sure we are ready for the Burnley game in a couple of weeks.
'I thought we looked lively and we looked very strong physically, but there are still a few things we will work on to improve,` said Pulis
He also delivered promising news on central defenders Abdoulaye Faye and Ryan Shawcross who were both absent from the game after picking up minor knocks in training.
'Hopefully they will both be ok for the Derby game on Saturday. We left them out as a precaution really because there is no point in risking them at this stage of the season.
'But I'm hopeful they will both be ok to play some part this weekend at Pride Park," said Pulis.
Supporters who wish to purchase tickets on the day can do so, but are urged to arrive early. There will be no cash entry on the turnstiles. Tickets are priced at £12 for adults and £6 for concessions.
Derby County Squad: Bywater, Deeney, Connolly, McEveley, Green, Addison, Savage, Commons, Teale, Porter, Barker, Varney, Pearson, Buxton, Pringle, Barnes, Davies, Moxey.
Stoke City Squad: Sorensen, Griffin, Wilkinson, Shotton, Sonko, Soares, Cort, Higginbotham, Lawrence, Whelan, Whitehead Delap, Etherington, Beattie, Fuller, Kitson, Faye, Shawcross
Date:Saturday August 1 2009
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