The Big Match Preview: West Ham United (H)
Pride Park Stadium
The Rams face The Hammers for the second time in six games as they look to win a third home game in a row following the recent slump.
It is fair to say six points from a possible nine signifies something of a return to form for Derby but a third in succession will be tough given the form of second-placed West Ham United.
A real blessing for The Rams will be the absence of Hammers talisman Kevin Nolan, who is suspended. He scored a superb volley in the 3-1 defeat at Upton Park earlier in the season.
The Rams have proven they can beat the bigger sides in the division as the underdogs. West Ham clearly pose a large threat but can certainly be beaten.
Rams defender Jason Shackell believes The Rams have nothing to fear when The Hammers come to town: 'We're not fazed by the prospect of facing one of the promotion hopefuls,' he told Rams Player.
'This division throws up hard games week after week, so we shouldn't go into the game with any fear at all.
'We're at home, with our fans behind us, and if we play like we did against Leeds there's no reason why we can't get another win.'
The Rams Team News:
Nigel Clough hopes to be able to name the same starting 11 that beat Leeds on Boxing Day.
One man certain not to feature, however, is young defender Mark O'Brien, who is out for the season with anterior cruciate ligament damage sustained in training.
Jeff Hendrick and Steven Davies are both still out but should not be long-term absentees.
Player to watch: Shaun Barker
Barker was back to his very best against Leeds United, and although the whole defence was excellent, he stood out in particular.
He will have to be in good form to keep quiet West Ham's star-studded strike-force but on the evidence of Boxing Day, he is more than capable of doing so.
The Hammers Team News:
West Ham United are depleted by injuries and suspensions.
Kevin Nolan, George McCartney, Julian Faubert and Jack Collison are all banned while David Bentley, Marek Stech, Matt Taylor, Abdoulaye Faye, Guy Demel, Sam Baldock and Winston Reid complete the long list of absentees Sam Alladyce has to contend with.
Player to watch: Carlton Cole
Striker Cole scored with a deft header against The Rams to level the scores at Upton Park the last time the sides met.
He is a quality player at this level an scored with a supremely confident left-footed goal against Birmingham which oozed quality.
Match Facts & Stats
Derby County last 5:
Leeds United (h) 1-0
Ipswich Town (a) 0-1
Bristol City (h) 2-1
Crystal Palace (a) 1-1
Brighton & Hove Albion (h) 0-1
West Ham United last 5:
Birmingham City (a) 1-1
Barnsley (h) 1-0
Reading (a) 0-3
Burnley (h) 1-2
Middlesbrough (a) 2-0
Hull City vs. Derby County, Mon 2nd January, 15:00pm, The Championship