Keith Fahey will have a late fitness test on a groin strain picked up playing for Ireland. Stephen Carr is definitely out but new signings Peter Ramage and Caleb Folan are eligible to join the squad.
Forward Jamie Ward is a doubt for Derby along with Craig Bryson and John Brayford.
The Blues and The Rams met on the first day of the season with the game ending in a 2-1 win to the home side. Curtis Davies’ opener was cancelled out by first half goals by Jason Shackell and Steven Davies.
Last week’s loss to Forest was the first defeat in sixteen for Blues and the first at home all season. They have dropped to 5th.
Derby sit 15th having gained only two points from the last eighteen. They have scored only thirteen goals in sixteen away games.
So what went wrong last week then? Blues played the first half not like a team on a fifteen game unbeaten run but instead like one that had never played together before. I don’t know if it was complacency or merely tiredness but there was a lack of urgency and the passing was wayward from everybody. It wasn’t just the PA system that was broken. But that was last week and without a midweek game the team would have had a few days to recharge their batteries and get that defeat out of their system.
The most obvious problem last week was Keith Fahey and Jordon Mutch getting outnumbered in midfield and if Derby turn up with a similar formation a change from 4-4-2 would help a repeat. I know it seems strange after the McLeish era to be advocating a 4-5-1 / 4-3-3 formation but the difference in those days was that the one was often thirty yards away from the five. I believe with the squad we have now that it would be very different. With Zigic not looking fully fit we could start with Townsend and Burke flanking Marlon King although Huseklepp and Redmond could also fill those roles. If N’Daw is fit then he would slot into central midfield to help Mutch and Fahey out. There’s no need to change the defence unless Chris Hughton wishes to give Peter Ramage a run out at right back.
Derby started the season well but have faded of late and are no longer serious play-off contenders. On paper this should be a home banker but we thought that last week and I also remember a game against Derby in 2008 which we only drew despite high expectations. We got relegated by a point that season. Hopefully the ‘stumble to lower league opponents’ blip has been and gone and we can look to dominate from the start on Saturday. If not then we will have to seriously reassess our promotion chances. As I’m always wrong I’ve decided to predict a disappointing result this week.
Blues 1 Derby 1
C’mon you Blue Boys