Derby County welcome Queen’s Park Rangers to Pride Park on Friday 31st March for new manager Gary Rowett’s first home match in charge.
After the heartbreak of conceding the late equaliser against Forest in the last match, it will prove to be a difficult test for the Rams to retaliate strongly as The Rs are bang in form at present; winning 5 out of their previous 7 matches and storming up the table to 15thon 50 points, only 3 points away from Derby in 10th on 53.
This coupled with County’s poor form – only one win in 10 games – means a good result is even more important to resist slipping further down the league. With a potential summer overhaul at hand, and the play-offs looking beyond Derby, players will be playing for places to be a part of the new era under Rowett moving forward.
Previous meetings between the two have been balanced in recent times, with the only real standout fixture being the unfortunate 1-0 play-off final defeat for the Rams in 2014. A match that still lives on strongly in the minds of fans.
The team news for Derby is that long-term absentees Jason Shackell, George Thorne, Craig Forsyth and Nick Blackman are still out, but with all international players returning healthily it leaves the Rams with no new injury or suspension concerns.
QPR’s only team news concern is Massimo Luongo, who will be a big miss for the London side after receiving a knock whilst on international duty with Australia.
QPR’s main threat is striker Conor Washington; fresh from scoring for Northern Ireland against Norway during the international break and with 6 goals in the league this season he will be looking to use his pace to cause havoc for the Derby back-line and add to that tally.
Additionally, with midfielder Luongo injured there is perhaps an opportunity for the infamous Ravel Morrison to impress. The perpetually talented yet troubled playmaker has been given a new chance under Ian Holloway and despite not showing his full potential as of yet, undoubtedly has the capability to produce a moment of genius to win the game.
SkyBet have Derby at odds of 19/20 to win, QPR to win at 3/1 with a draw at 12/5 – making Derby favourites for this encounter.
Kick off at Pride Park on Friday night will be at 7:45pm.