The Sky Sports cameras will be at the iPro Stadium on Saturday lunchtime when Derby County take on Norwich City in the Sky Bet Championship, and we’ve taken a closer look at the match.Both sides were strong promotion candidates at the start of the season but have had mixed fortunes in their pursuit of that feat to date.
Derby have recorded 11 wins and lost just four times this campaign, but two of those defeats have come in their last three matches, including last Saturday’s defeat to Middlesbrough. That 2-0 reverse saw the Rams surrender the lead of the Sky Bet Championship, and they were then defeated by Premier League leaders Chelsea in the Capital One Cup in midweek.
Norwich, meanwhile, have been on a downward curve since topping the table back in September, after a run of one win in 10 games derailed a positive start to the season. Recently, they’ve started to string some results together again, recording victories over Wigan Athletic and Huddersfield in the last fortnight.
Norwich did the double over Derby the last time they met in the Championship back in the 2010/11 campaign. Current Derby forward Chris Martin scored in the first meeting for Norwich as they went on to win 2-1, while a Simeon Jackson hat-trick sealed the points in a 3-2 victory in the second clash.
This fixture usually produces a tight affair, with four of the last five matches being decided by a single goal. That’s not to say it hasn’t featured its fair share of action, with the ball being put in the back of the net 18 times in those games, an average of more than three goals per game.
Overall, the head-to-head reads in Norwich’s favour - they’ve posted 27 wins to Derby’s 18, with 15 draws also being contested since they first met back in 1960.
Derby defender Jake Buxton was dismissed against Chelsea in midweek and will therefore miss out through suspension. Ryan Shotton was given his marching orders against Boro last weekend and will come back in after serving a one-match ban. Other than that, Rams head coach Steve McClaren has no fresh concerns, with Jamie Ward and John Eustace still sidelined.
Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe is likely to be Norwich’s only absentee this weekend as he continues to battle a knee injury, but Mark Bunn, Ryan Bennett and Javier Garrido could all make the cut after featuring in reserve action for the Canaries against Liverpool in midweek.
The demolition of Huddersfield saw Nathan Redmond, Lewis Grabban and Wes Hoolahan all impress from the bench, and Neil Adams could be tempted to start them.
IN THE MEDIA
Steve McClaren has urged the iPro Stadium crowd to get behind the team at the weekend.
He told the Derby Telegraph: “At times you have to dig in, dig deep and be resilient to get through certain patches in the season, and I think this is one.
“We have had three defeats from the last four games. You are going to get this in football and it is how you fight and scrap and get yourselves out of it that counts. That is what I am interested to see.
“It started on Tuesday against Chelsea and I want to see it follow on tomorrow against Norwich. We expect tough periods and patches when we are not playing as well and not getting results.
“This is why the supporters are so, so important to us tomorrow. I cannot emphasise that enough.”
Ahead of the match, Norwich boss Adams admitted he is very happy with the strength and depth of his squad, telling canaries.co.uk: “It’s a good, competitive group we’ve got now. Off the back of two wins, it’s good to have the players available if they’re needed.
“It’s obviously great to get those type of results and it gives everyone a huge boost, myself included.
“It was a very good performance in the second half, and off the back of the Wigan victory, it sends us into the game with loads of confidence and our tails up in the air.
“You can remain positive but results are everything. You’d take a bad performance and a win, of course you would, but obviously the manner of last week’s game when we played exceptionally well and scored goals for fun to win the game - that gives you a double lift.”
MARTIN V MARTIN
This clash will see the two Martins go head-to-head, as Norwich’s Russell bids to keep out the Sky Bet Championship’s second-highest goalscorer, and former Canary, Chris.
The latter made the move from Norwich to Derby in 2013 following a promising loan spell with the Rams. He appeared in the yellow and green strip 117 times in total, scoring 34 goals for his boyhood club. This weekend he will come up against them for the first time, and it will be defender Russell looking to make it an unhappy reunion.
The Norwich centre-back has been at Carrow Road since 2010 after transferring from Peterborough United, and has appeared over 200 times, scoring 12 goals. He has been instrumental in City’s defence this season, featuring in five of the six games in which they have kept a clean sheet.
The Sky Sports cameras will be at the iPro Stadium to capture all the action, and we'll be tweeting updates from our Sky Bet Championship divisional account - @SkyBetChamp. Join in the conversation using #Championship.