The Big Preview: Scunthorpe United (A)
The Rams make the journey to Scunthorpe on Saturday, to take part in what has become one of the most important matches of the season.
To say The Iron have struggled at home this season is an understatement.
They have managed only two three-point hauls in the current campaign (admittedly one of those came in the last fixture against high-flying promotion candidates Nottingham Forest) so Derby's modest form at home look positively sensational in comparison.
The Rams are without a win since New Years Day's 2-1 success at Deepdale against Preston North End, who sit bottom of the table, so the side currently one place above the seemingly relegation-destined Lilywhites, would seem to present the next best opportunity for maximum points.
Scunthorpe seem to be in a similar situation to Derby, selling their better players to other sides to cover the costs of running their club, such as one-time Rams target Gary Hooper, who was snapped up by Celtic, much like our former talisman Kris Commons.
The difference between the sides is that Derby is a big club which regularly attracts crowds approaching 30,000, and Scunthorpe is a perrenial lower league side, which attracted only 5,578 against second placed Forest.
Scunthorpe fans accept that this is the way it is for their club. They must do this to survive. But seeing Derby being run in the same way as The Iron is not inspiring, it doesn't instill confidence in the incumbent regime, and it is extremely frustrating.
Fans anger continue to grow, primarily with the board, and recent loan additions have done little to reduce the ill-feeling towards the club's owners.
It doesn't look like attitudes will change soon.
The only way to stop the talk is by winning games and with big matches coming up against teams towards the lower end of the table, there isn't a better time to do it.
Rams forward Tomasz Cywka has given the DET his thoughts ahead of the vital clash in Scunthorpe, and for the coming months: 'We've got 16 games left and every one of them is important,' said the former Wigan Athletic player.
'Most of the teams in the Championship are even and the games are usually close.
'So the Scunthorpe game will be just as difficult as the Leicester game, if not more so.
'We just need to keep going and make sure we start well this time.
'We didn't have many shots or chances against Leicester and I think we need to build up better from the back.
'We need to start creating more chances and scoring some goals.
'We just need to keep going, get on the front foot and start winning games again.
'If we can play like we did in the second half against Leicester, I think things will get better for us.
'It is tough when you are not winning games and, sometimes, one action can be the difference between winning and losing.
'We just need to get that one win and then that will hopefully get our confidence back up.'
Midfielder Josh Wright is keen to build on his side's victory over Nottingham Forest: 'We have got to make sure we don't waste that result now against Derby,' he told .
'The Forest result was a massive one for us - it has put pressure on other teams around us near the bottom of the table with that victory.
'The way we defended shows how well we are beginning to gel as a team.
'We knew we had to start picking up results.
'To do so against a team like Forest shows that we can beat a lot of teams on this ground.
'We have got to turn this place into a fortress again for us, like it was last season.
'Tomorrow's game is an even bigger one now but if we can all put it in together again as a team, I am sure we will be okay.'
The Iron Team News:
On-loan Forest striker Joe Garner may return to the Scunny side after he sat out the game against his parent club.
Defender Eddie Nolan was substituted during the win over our close neighbours with a calf injury, so Andrew Wright may deputise.
Keeper David Murphy's ankle problem is keeping his on the sidelines, but defenders Rob Jones and David Mirfin may return.
Former Hibs and Grimsby defender Jones was once targeted by The Rams, and his giant presence is likely to make it difficult for our strikers on Saturday.
Player to watch: Chris Dagnall
Top-scorer Martyn Woolford was sold for a pittance in January as he was out of contract in the summer (sound familiar?).
As a result, much of the responsibility now falls to striker Dagnall, who netted the winner in his side's 1-0 success over Nottingham Forest, his fifth league strike of the season.
The frontman had productive spells with Tranmere Rovers and Rochdale, scoring 54 goals in 156 league games for the then League Two side.
The Rams Team News:
Derby's main injury worries are in midfield for the Glanford Park clash.
Stephen Pearson sustained a bruised shin after taking a kick against Leicester City and James Bailey is also likely to miss out with the abductor strain which kept him out against The Foxes.
Daniel Ayala should partner Shaun Barker in defence, allowing Miles Addison to push forward into midfield, whilst fellow centre-backs Jake Buxton and Russell Anderson both remain injured but are close to resuming full training.
New loan-signing Jamie Ward may operate as a striker after penning a temporary switch from Sheffield United until the end of the season. His pace is seen by manager Nigel Clough, as the missing ingredient in the Derby side.
Player to watch: Daniel Ayala
On-loan Liverpool defender Ayala looks set to step into central defence to face Scunthorpe.
The Spaniard, who impressed on loan with Hull City earlier this season, could add some class to a back-line which has been leaking goals at an alarming rate since the start of the slump in November.
He has made five appearances for Liverpool's senior side and is seen as a potential first-team regular by the Mersysiders.
Match Facts & Stats
The Ram's last five:
Leicester City (a) 0-2
Portsmouth (a) 1-1
Ipswich Town (h) 1-2
Nottingham Forest (h) 0-1
Watford (a) 0-3
The Iron's last five:
Nottingham Forest (h) 1-0
Cardiff City (a) 0-1
Hull City (h) 1-5
Middlesbrough (a) 0-2
Burnley (h) 0-0
Derby County vs. Derby County, Tue 22th February, 19:45pm, The Championship