|Posted by Stuart Hughes on January 29, 2012 at 2:10 PM|
With Paul Green, Shaun Barker, Chris Riggott and Lee Croft all returning from injury to play for the reserves this week, and John Brayford likely to be available too, manager Nigel Clough will have a pleasant selection headache for a change.
After two straight losses, and three defeats in the last four games, it’s not as if the players who’ve been selected in those four games are nailed on for selection.
At least Derby County are likely to have a substitutes bench of senior players, rather than one filled with schoolkids. Nothing against the schoolkids – they are phenomenal prospects for the future – but it does show how stretched the Rams squad is at the moment.
It might be too soon for the likes of Green, Barker and Riggott to start but it would be a welcome sight to see them back on the bench. A fit Brayford would make a huge difference as he is the only recognised right-back in the first team squad and not only strengthens the defence but adds something to the attack too.
The biggest selection problem for Clough remains the forward line in the continued absence of Steven Davies and Nathan Tyson. Theo Robinson will surely start if he’s fit but neither Chris Maguire, Tomasz Cywka, Mason Bennett or Callum Ball have been able to claim a shirt in their own right yet.
Saturday’s game is an important one. Derby County are above opponents Hull City on goal difference but the Tigers have a game in hand.
Prediction: Derby County 2-1 Hull City.
Hull City’s danger man: Aaron McLean is a striker who always impressed me during his time at Peterborough United. A prolific goalscorer in the lower leagues, Hull City signed him in January.
Previous encounters: Last season Hull City left Pride Park Stadium with all three points following a 1-0 victoty. The solitary goal was scored by Gerrard. On the night Derby County created more chances but were unable to score. Rams fans will remember the game as the one in which Stephen Bywater was substituted following a back injury and young James Severn came on for his debut.
Published in the Derby Telegraph on Friday 18th November 2011.