Derby County vs. Plymouth Argyle
Pride Park Stadium
The Rams are back at Pride Park Stadium for a home encounter against one of the few teams they did the double over last season. Paul Sturrock`s Plymouth side are yet to register a win in any competition this season, having drawn two and lost one in the league. They were also defeated by League One Gillingham in the Carling Cup. Having played away from home in the last three fixtures, it will be a welcome return to the site of the 2-1 opening day victory against Peterborough. The Rams will be eager to consolidate their early season top half position with a win against a side with early season blues.
Although disappointed not to score at the Blackpool end, Nigel Clough was happy to keep the first clean sheet of the season: 'We saw a lot more work defensively from our wide men. With about 15 minutes to go, Gary Teale was out on the left and he and Dean Moxey were defending together deep in the left-back position. That is the sort of thing we are looking for.' He will be looking to add another clean sheet as the Rams look to rebuild after a rocky defensive start to the season.
Former captain Robbie Savage has had the armband handed back to him, much to the midfielder`s delight: 'I did not want to take it away from Connors (Paul Connolly), who probably had his best game of the season for us at Blackpool,' he said, "being captain of Derby County is a lot of pressure, as I found the first time I did it. This is a big club."
Paul Sturrock feels that there is more pressure playing at Home Park than at away grounds. 'Last year we had a torrid season with the worst home record in the league so there is an apprehension at times.' Having seen his side pick up a creditable point at Selhurst Park in a 1-1 against Crystal Palace, he believes his side could achieve a similar result at Pride Park: 'If you take the way we played at Palace and put it into the game on Saturday, then we'll be competitive,' he said, talking to BBC Devon.
Derby County Team News:
Rob Hulse has quashed rumours of a £5million switch to Middlesbrough. 'This is where I want to be. I certainly see my future at Derby." Encouraging news; the loss of Rob would be a massive one for the club. This means he will be playing against the Pilgrims at the weekend, looking to notch his first goal of the campaign having made his first appearance against Blackpool in midweek.
Luke Varney is on his way to Hillsborough until January 1st 2010 for a second loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday in as many seasons. He will therefore not be available for selection on Saturday, meaning attacking options will once again be limited, although Steve Davies is pushing for the bench having suffered a slight strain. Chris Porter and Giles Barnes are still out, but Paul Green may feature despite foot issues.
Medi Abalimba, a recent signing from Southend, is available to play, but he is more likely to be featuring heavily in the reserve team this season. The 17 year-old midfielder has had trials with Man United, Man City and Liverpool, showing he undoubtedly has quality. Jake Livermore, a Tottenham loanee, has completed a ban and is in contention for a place.
Player to watch: Rob Hulse
Ex-Sheffield United striker Rob Hulse will be looking to get more goals against a Plymouth side which he scored three times against last season. Kris Commons, instrumental in both wins in the previous campaign against the Pilgrims, will also be vital, having produced two assists against Sturrock`s men.
Plymouth Argyle Team News:
Two of Paul Sturrock`s summer signings are unlikely to feature against the Rams. Striker/winger Bradley Wright-Phillips has suffered a torn calf, and Scotsman Sturrock doesn`t expect him back before late September. On-loan Celtic forward Cillian Sheridan is a doubt; the Republic of Ireland U21 international sustaining a calf injury. Sturrock is considering handing debuts to Benin defender Réda Johnson and Icelandic international Kári Árnáson. as he weighs up his defensive options havin seen his side produce some poor defending in their recent 1-3 home defeat at the hands of Cardiff City.
Player to watch: Alan Gow
Having only made a handful of appearances for Rangers, former Falkirk striker Gow has earned something of a reputation in the Championship, with loans to Blackpool and Norwich last season leading to bids from Wolves and Burnley, now of the Premier League. He scored a penalty on his Plymouth debut against Cardiff.
Match Facts & Stats
Last 5: Derby County
Blackpool (a) 0-0
Scunthorpe United (a) 2-3
Rotherham United (a) 1-2
Peterborough United (h) 2-1
Watford (a) 1-3
Last 5: Plymouth Argyle
Cardiff City (h) 1-3
Queens Park Rangers (h) 1-1
Gillingham (a) 1-2
Crystal Palace (a) 1-1
Barnsley (h) 1-2
Nottingham Forest vs. Derby County, Saturday 29 August 2009 13:00, The Coca-Cola Football League Championship