Two promotion hopefuls, Derby county and Leeds United, will be up against each other on Friday night in the Championship. Leeds United host Derby at Elland Road in the 26th game week in what will be a massive clash. Derby County’s progress to seventh place in the table from almost the relegation zone, when Steve McClaren was brought in, has been a story to follow but their last game in the Championship must be concerning for the former England manager.
Derby’s last Championship outing resulted in a 3-0 loss to Norwich City which ended their 10-game unbeaten run. However, the side should have gotten their confidence back after a 1-2 win against Premier League’s performing side West Bromwich Albion in the FA Cup last Saturday. Derby are just two points behind Sheffield Wednesday who are in the final playoff spot and will be looking to keep the pressure on those ahead of them with a win over Leeds.
Derby’s head to head record against Leeds will give them a lot of confidence. The two sides have met each other 19 times in the Championship and Leeds have won just 4 games, losing 12 to the Rams. The reverse fixture also ended with a 1-0 win for the Rams. Here is the predicted Derby County lineup against Leeds United.
Experienced custodian Scott Carson will keep his place under the bar. The 31-year-old has kept 15 clean sheets in 28 games this season and has conceded just 20 times. He will be a busy man against Leeds and will be looking to come out on top.
Experienced and versatile defender Chris Baird will start at right-back. We expect Alex Pearce and Richard Keogh to start at the heart of the defence. All the regular left-backs at Pride Park are currently out with injuries and Ikechi Anya, who can fill in that role, also went down to an injury against Norwich City. We expect youngster Jamie Hanson to start at left-back.
Bradley Johnson has been impressive this season in a defensive midfield role and is likely to keep his place against Leeds. Will Hughes is likely to start in midfield. Jacob Butterfield is missing through a red-card suspension which means Craig Bryson will keep his place in the middle of the park. Butterfield is the prime playmaker for the Rams and replacing him is no straight-forward task at all.
Tom Ince has been excellent attacking wise this season and will be keen to do the damage to Leeds from the right flank. Johnny Russell should start on the left. Darren Bent will keep his place up front and his experience will be called upon in such a big game.