Writer: Peter Simcox
Date:Saturday December 1 2007
Rams go in search of elusive goal
Derby County head to Sunderland for Saturday`s Premier League scrap knowing a win could lift them off the bottom of the Premier League table if results elsewhere go their way, but before they can complete that task they have to score.
In fact the Rams have gone 10 hours without a goal and new coach Paul Jewell will hope that will change on Saturday.
It`s a double incentive for Jewell`s side, knowing that three points from the Stadium of Light will see them close to within a point of their hosts.
Jewell said: "'In the Championship if you make mistakes you don't get punished as much whereas in the Premier League the opposition is ruthless.
'We have got to become a tight group that is difficult to beat, and if we can do that we have got to try and score goals, and I do feel that we have got the players who can score goals.'
Jewell added: 'I know it's an old cliche but we judge each game on its merit and the next one is Sunderland away so we will go there and try to win the game, simple as that.'
Both sides are back in the Premiership having earned promotion from the Championship in 2006/07, but they have both struggled and find themselves in the relegation zone after 14 games with the Black Cats third from bottom and four points ahead of the Rams.
It`s what`s they call a real 'six pointer` and with the only a quarter of the season gone it`s probably the most important trip for the Rams this season.
Both sides go into Saturday's match on the back of defeats, Derby losing 2-0 at home to Chelsea, in a game when a couple of controversial second-half decisions hampered the Rams in Billy Davies last game in charge.
While Sunderland were beaten 7-1 away to Everton, leaving their manager Roy Keane an angry man. Whoever comes out on top will definitely feel the benefit.
"It goes without saying that any Premier League win is a big win and we could get off the bottom of the table if things go our way,' Rams boss Paul Jewell said.
'There are 24 games to go and it will be a long old 24 games - it could be the lowest points total to keep teams up so all isn't dead yet.
'Roy is no different to any manager or player - his side are at home, so they will want to come at us and put us on the back foot,' said Jewell.
'The Stadium of Light is a difficult place to go but it is also a great place to go and play your football.
'Hopefully we can have the confidence to get the ball down and move it, and to try and do to them what they want to do to us.'
But nothing will be won or lost at this stage of the season.
'We have got 24 games left and if we win on Saturday it doesn't mean we're finishing in the top-ten, but if we lose it doesn't mean we're going down.
'I feel this group of players is better than the league position.
'But we are being punished for mistakes, we have not scored goals, all the usual things that happen to teams that come up are happening to Derby,' added Jewell.
In team news for the big clash, the Rams have a virtually full squad to choose from for the trip. Claude Davis, Dean Leacock and Kenny Miller are all set to return to the starting line up as Derby look for what would be only a second league win this term.
Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones has been passed fit after struggling with a rib problem. Dean Whitehead (knee), Andy Cole (calf) and Carlos Edwards (shoulder) are OK but Nyron Nosworthy (hamstring) is out.
Date:Saturday December 1 2007
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