Nottingham Forest return to Championship action on Monday as they face Derby County at the City Ground.
It’s undoubtedly a huge match for both sides. Not only does this game clearly mean more to both sets of supporters, but both sides are still in with a chance of finishing in the play-offs. There’s more riding on the result than just the bragging rights.
The Reds are currently six points off the play-offs. In comparison, the Rams are two points off, with a game in hand on the Reds. Bristol City are currently sat in the final play-off spot, but they travel to league leaders Norwich City tomorrow. If they lose, both Derby and Forest will have an opportunity to capitalise.
It hasn’t been an easy run of fixtures for Martin O’Neill’s side of late. They faced two tough away trips to West Brom and Preston last week, but were ultimately unlucky not to come away with maximum points. If they can match recent performances in this game, the Reds should have a great chance of returning to winning ways.
Ahead of Monday’s game, Seat Pitch has taken a look at three players that the Reds will have to deal with if they are to secure the three points.
It will certainly be interesting to see if Frank Lampard includes Ashley Cole in his starting line-up for this match.
The 38-year-old former England international made his Championship debut on Wednesday against Millwall. It’s fair to say it didn’t go as he would’ve hoped. He was utilised as a wing back as Lampard tried a 3-5-2 formation against the Lions.
Even if Lampard reverts back to his usual 4-3-3 formation, Cole would still fit in at left-back.
There’s no doubt that his experience could be valuable for the Rams in this match. However, his fitness could be an issue. He has only played 117 minutes of football since arriving at Pride Park. For Lampard to throw him into a match of this intensity would be a gamble.
If you had to pick out one player who has stood out for the Rams this season, it would be Harry Wilson. He’s scored 12 goals for Lampard’s side so far, whilst also managing to rack up four assists.
The 21-year-old Liverpool loanee looked a constant threat in the reverse fixture at Pride Park in December. If he starts on the right-hand side, it’ll be Jack Robinson’s job to ensure he isn’t able to cut in on his left foot.
Wilson’s form has somewhat tailed off recently though. He had previously formed a good relationship with Mason Mount. Since the Chelsea loanee picked up an injury, Wilson has struggled to make the same impact. Despite this, there’s no doubt that he has quality. For this reason, the Reds must keep a close eye on him.
Although Lampard’s tried to fit both Jack Marriott and Martyn Waghorn in the team recently, he’s likely to only play one striker against the Reds. If this is the case, you’d expect Marriott to be the more likely to start.
The 24-year-old has scored 10 goals in all competitions since signing from Peterborough United. He’s certainly had no issues making the step-up to the Championship from League One.
He hasn’t scored in his last five appearances for the Rams though. This is one of the longest periods he has gone without scoring this season. In some ways, he’s a similar player to Lewis Grabban.