Opposition watch: Derby County

The low-down on Tuesday evening's opponents from Pride Park

A fixture which has been played on just seven occasions in the past 14 years given the varying leagues in which each team has played in, Derby County currently hold the upper hand with 59 wins compared to Bolton’s 45 in all competitions.

With the two sides having already played out a thriller this season – a 2-2 draw at the Reebok Stadium back in September which saw all four goals come in the opening half of the clash – Tuesday’s meeting has all the makings of a classic.

A game which Wanderers will be going all out to secure maximum points in to ensure that they pick up a fourth consecutive victory, it is one that the hosts will also be keen to emerge victorious in to keep their automatic promotion hopes alive.

Just eight points separate the Rams from second placed Burnley following impressive domestic campaigns for both clubs, but two defeats in recent weeks for Steve McClaren’s men have halted their charge somewhat.

Saturday’s reverse at the hands of Millwall at the iPro Stadium – a result which Wanderers will no doubt be taking inspiration from ahead of Tuesday’s clash – was Derby’s fifth defeat on home soil this season.

That game however saw the Derbyshire outfit forced to compete without influential striker Chris Martin – a man who currently leads the club’s goalscoring charts with 18 strikes so far this term.

With the midweek meeting set to mark the Norwich-born frontman’s return to action though, Wanderers will certainly have to be on their guard to keep him at bay.

A team who have struggled for consistency since their relegation from England’s top flight six years ago, the Rams have been unable to stage any significant attempts at promotion in recent campaigns.

Having recorded league finishes ranging from last season’s 10th to 19th in 2011, this year’s impressive performances and consequent results have ensured that Derby have climbed up the table and slipped under the radar of many around them.

Now well and truly on course to secure at the very least a spot in the play-offs given that they are currently nine points ahead of seventh placed Wigan Athletic, the Derby faithful will undoubtedly be celebrating their highest league finish since their promotion winning campaign of 2007.

It was during that season that the Rams did taste Play-Off Final success with a 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion at Wembley, with club will no doubt set to take solace from their previous experiences in the competition should history repeat itself come May.

With twelve games of the campaign still to go however and 36 points up for grabs, McClaren’s side will certainly not be resting on their laurels when Wanderers travel to Derbyshire in midweek.
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