9th August 2008
At last it`s here, after waiting for three months the football season is back and a new start at Pride Park is hopefully beginning. After the nightmare that was last season Paul Jewell has set about systematically dismantling the squad and with eleven new signings in a revamped squad it could be an interesting season. Getting off to good start could be vital to any hopes of a swift return to the Premiership.
This will be Doncasters` first season back in the top half of English football for fifty years and meetings with Derby have been few a far between. The latest coming in September 2006 when Doncaster won 8-7 on penalties after a good old fashioned cup tie with Derby coming from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 and force extra time and penalties.
Before the summer the last player to move directly between the clubs was Michael McIndoe who was loaned to the Rams in the Terry Westley era although the option to sign him on a permanent basis was not taken up. After playing a large part in Doncasters rise through the leagues and the play-off victory against Leeds at Wembley, Paul Green decided not to take up the offer of a new contract and instead moved to the Rams on a free transfer this summer. During pre-season he has played a major part in all of the friendlies and is looking a useful acquisition to Paul Jewells` rebuilt squad, he seems certain to start the game against his former club this weekend and on his current form could cause a few problems.
The game is on course to be a sell-out with Doncaster having sold their entire allocation and close to 30,000 tickets being sold in total for the clash. Paul Jewell seems to have the total backing of the American owners and the changes he has made seem to have changed the face of the entire team both on and off the park and the club and fans can go into the new season with a genuine sense of optimism, let`s hope it lasts longer than the end of September this time out!
"I am pretty sure we can be competitive in this division and hopefully get out of it." Paul Jewell talking to the Derby Evening Telegraph
Derby County Team News:
Claude Davis, yet to play in pre-season, is a doubt with a knee injury despite being back in training and Mile Sterjovski also missed the last couple of pre-season friendlies with a knock. Robbie Savage is still at the club but that doesn`t appear to be the case long term so don`t expect him to feature in this one.
Player to watch: Kris Commons
Looked the pick of the bunch pre-season and has the ability to unlock a defence which could prove vital in a tight match.
Doncaster Rovers Team News:
Darren Byfield set to miss out after an operation, summer recruits James Chambers and John Spicer set to make their debuts.
Player to watch: John Spicer
Former Arsenal trainee who failed to make the grade at the Emirates but some strong performances for Bournemouth earned him a move to Burnley. Signed on a free this summer he looks to be a useful recruit for the Championship new boys.
Match Facts & Stats
Derby generally don`t do well on the opening day and after last season could do with a win as early as possible. Doncaster may be a bit of an unknown quantity at this level and although we must surely be favourites for this home game three points are no foregone conclusion. A tight match with Derby just edging it 2-1, Paul Green to score the winner anyone?
12th August v Lincoln City (League Cup) Pride Park