Preview: Derby County vs. Stoke City
Pride Park Stadium
The Rams play Premier League opposition for the first time in pre-season in the form of Stoke City. After going undefeated in pre-season so far Nigel Clough's team will be keen to extend their run without loss, but it will be tough to maintain it until the season opener against Leeds United (when the results really start to matter) as they face Birmingham City in the final pre-season fixture on Saturday afternoon.
Nigel Clough acknowledges the rise in quality his sides will be facing: 'With every game the level is stepping up and Stoke and Birmingham will certainly pose different tests to the games we have played already,' he said in conversation with the official website.
'It is all part of our build-up and it will be interesting to see how we fare against Premiership opposition.'
Clough's opposite number Tony Pulis takes pre-season games with a pinch of salt: 'Results really don't mean anything at this stage of the season,' he commented. 'You look at last season, we lost to Newcastle Town and Nantwich, but when the season kicked off we went and got three points against Burnley.'
Derby County Team News:
Stephen Pearson, Jake Buxton, Miles Addison, Steven Davies and Shaun Barker will not face The Potters as they continue recovering from their various injuries. Nigel Clough will possibly be with Dean Leacock who has missed the last two matches with an illness. He would be most welcome as Rob Hulse has had to play as a defender in the absence of a recognised centre-back partner for Russell Anderson.
Player to watch: Conor Doyle
American trialist Doyle has been impressive in pre-season so far and will probably be handed another chance to shine against Stoke as he tries to win himself a deal with The Rams, something which Nigel Clough has indicated is likely.
Stoke City Team News:
Player to watch: Tuncay Sanli
Turkish forward Tuncay notched a treble in Stoke's recent 6-0 triumph over Newcastle Town. Stoke boss Tony Pulis said this of Tuncay: 'It was good to see him score the goals and I was happy for him, because he has worked very hard since coming back for training.'
Match Facts & Stats
Pre Season results (first team):
Burton Albion (a) 1-0
Southend United (a) 1-1
Bournemouth (a) 3-3
Chesterfield (a) 5-4
Derby County vs. Birmingham City, Sat 31st July, 3pm, Friendly