The Big Preview: Portsmouth (H)
The Rams take on Portsmouth tomorrow in another important match. Having said that, all the matches Nigel Clough´s struggling side are involved in are big ones as defeat after defeat have left the Derby side utterly bereft of confidence, luck and, most importantly, much-needed points. Nine defeat in eleven games and just four points from the last available 30 have seen The Rams plummet from fourth to 16th in the Championship table. Fans are growing increasingly restless after just the one signing, that of Ben Davies, in the January transfer window, and the fact that top scorer Kris Commons moved to Celtic, and young full-back Dean Moxey was offloaded to Crystal Palace. The collapsed proposed transfers of Connor Sammon and Daniel Ayala have done little to appease disgruntled fans despite accepted bids, and accusations of late and half-hearted moves for targets have been blamed by many for the lack of acquisitions made by the club.
Portsmouth are the prime example of a club over-spending to the point of near extinction, but a modicum of investment in playing staff is certainly required to take the Derby team forward. Portsmouth´s own well-documented troubles were dangerous for their club but are slowly rebuilding on and off the pitch. Major wage earner John Utaka has been moved on to France after a massively underwhelming spell on the south coast, but there are other star names in the Pompey side including Dave Kitson, Hermann Hreidarsson and David Nugent, one time England striker and scorer of a stunning long-range drive against international heavyweights Andorra.
January recruit Ben Davies played under current Portsmouth boss Steve Cotterill at Notts County and he knows what to expect from his former manager: 'It will be tough,' Davies told the DET. 'I know Steve Cotterill well and I still speak to him quite a bit.
'I spoke to him just before I moved to Derby and he wished me all the best and everything.
'He is a good manager and will have his team up for it. He knows exactly what he is doing.
'When you play against one of his teams, you know it is going to be competitive.
'And he's got some good players there - international players.
'It's a tight ground and there is always a good atmosphere.
'But if we can play like we did against Ipswich - but with a bit more luck - we're more than capable of winning the game.'
Cotterill himself was full of praise for the Derby supporters in his side`s 2-0 defeat at Pride Park earlier in the season and has called for a similar showing from his side`s supporters: 'I think they are a great club,' said Cotterill.
'When we went up there, we had 30,000 fans baying for our blood.
'Both teams were on a good run at the time and their fans really hunted us down that night.
'I hope our fans are as vocal for us this weekend, because that's something we could really do with.'
Pompey Team News:
Portsmouth full-back Carl Dickinson will be unavailable for the Fratton Park clash as the former Stoke City man requires surgery on a troublesome knee. Vastly experienced left-sided defender Hermann Hreidarsson looks set to deputise for Dickinson following only the second start of an injury-hit campaign in Portsmouth`s last match. Two of Steve Cotterill`s midfielders, veteran battler Micharl Brown and Richard Hughes, are engaged in contract disputes with the club whilst forward Danny Webber is a long term absentee.
Player to watch: Kanu
Gangly and unsightly are two ways to describe ex-Arsenal striker Kanu. Despite not looking like a footballer and not having an impressive goal-scoring record for a forward, he has a mystical ability to hold on to the ball and looked threatening when he came on against The Rams in the 2-0 win at Pride Park in the middle of the team`s purple patch. What a long time ago that seems...
The Rams Team News:
Captain Robbie Savage may return to the Derby side after watching the Ipswich Town defeat from the bench as an unused substitute. The midfielder, who recently announced his retirement at the end of the season on social-networking website Twitter, has been in poor form in recent weeks but the rest afforded to him on Tuesday night may provide him with the energy to put in a good performance. Central defence continues to be a problem for Nigel Clough as Dean Leacock remains suspended and fellow centre-halves Russell Anderson and Jake Buxton are still recovering from calf and groin injuries respectively. Steve Davies may well be given a chance to start upfront either alongside or in place of lone-striker Chris Porter.
Player to watch: Steven Davies
My gut feeling tells me that injury-plagued forward Steven Davies will be given a chance from the off against Portsmouth as Chris Porter on his own upfront just doesn`t seem to be working. He undoubtedly has talent as excellent performances in his early Derby career showed, and, poviding he remains injury free, he could be a key man in halting the slide The Rams are currently suffering.
Match Facts & Stats
The Ram`s last five:
Ipswich Town (h) 1-2
Nottingham Forest (h) 0-1
Watford (a) 0-3
Crawley Town (a) 1-2
Millwall (h) 0-0
Pompey`s last five:
Queens Park Rangers (a) 0-2
Burnley (h) 1-2
Leeds United (h) 2-2
Nottingham Forest (a) 1-2
Brighton & Hove Albion (a) 1-3
Derby County vs. Leicester City, Sat 12th February, 17:20pm, The Championship