Derby County will look to replicate their last round FA Cup display as they go up against yet another Premier League opponent, Leicester City. However, unlike the last time, Derby boss Steve McClaren won’t have much concern in terms of resting his main players for the next Championship fixture, which was the case last time.
Derby face Burton Albion following this fixture, who are dwelling in the relegation zone and McClaren’s side are clear favourites to win it. Hence, the Rams boss should be encouraged to field a strong side against the defending Premier League champions in their fourth round.
The back line should be the same from their convincing win against Reading in the Championship last week. Scott Carson is expected to continue to start under the bar. Derby have one of the most organised defences in the Championship with the Rams conceding only 21 times so far. And Leicester’s blunt attack might find it difficult to wade in.
Marcus Olsson is expected to start in the left-back role with Baird on the right back position. McClaren started with Jamie Hanson in the left-back against West Bromwich Albion last round but he is unlikely to risk any inexperienced player against Leicester.
Skipper Richard Keogh is expected to start as the centre-half alongside compatriot Alex Pearce. Although McClaren has a good option in Jason Shackell in the central defensive position, the manager is expected to use Pearce.
We expect the boss to give a chance to Julien de Sart in the deep midfield. The Belgian has been quite impressive in the last two games and McClaren is an admirer of the Middlesbrough loanee. Since his debut against West Bromwich Albion in the FA Cup 3rd round, he has been regular on the teamsheet.
Sart will play behind Bradley Johnson and Craig Bryson. We expect the boss to rest the ever-reliable Will Hughes in the weekend or start from the bench. Johnson has managed to score 2 goals and provide 1 assist so far and will get another chance to impress the boss.
Derby’s attack hasn’t been one of its positive aspects this season with most of the forwards contributing. Mainly because the Rams haven’t scored many goals this season (27). McClaren will hope they get their act together as they need their attackers in good form to ensure a dash for the playoff spots in the League. A Cup run will be key in getting their confidence back
Tom Ince has been just outstanding for them so far, scoring 10 goals and from the right wing. We expect Johnny Russell to start on the left wing. This flank has been quite a concern for McClaren this season and he is looking to add reinforcements this month.
The experienced Darren Bent is expected to start as the sole striker up front. The English forward has scored four goals for Derby so far and his experience will be of immense importance in such a big match.
Russel – Bent – Ince
Bryson – de Sart – Hughes
Olsson – Keogh – Pearce – Baird
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