Aug 23, 2014 at 3pm UK at ​Pride Park
DerbyDerby County
5-1
Fulham
Ward (23'), Bryson (59'), Martin (61', 87'), Dawkins (88')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Parker (54')

Preview: Derby County vs. Fulham

Fulham manager Felix Magath prior to kick-off against Hull in the Premier League match on April 26, 2014
© Getty Images
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Championship clash between two underachieving promotion candidates as Derby host pointless Fulham.

Having been relegated from the Premier League last season, Fulham were tipped by many to bounce straight back into the top flight via automatic promotion from the Championship.

Yet, after three matches, the Cottagers find themselves joint bottom of the table and one of only two pointless teams in the division.

They will have another chance to secure that elusive first point this Saturday, although they will face easier tasks this season than an away trip to take on Derby County.

Three of the above mentioned easier tasks have already been and gone without yielding anything for the Londoners, who have been beaten by Ipswich Town, Millwall and Wolverhampton Wanderers so far.

It is fair to say that Felix Magath's side were expected to win all of those matches, especially considering that their last two outings came at home.

Attendances are down at Craven Cottage and there is already an increasing gloom surrounding the club, with the first question marks being raised over the manager.

Fulham went through three bosses last season and, if Mark Robins was dismissed from Huddersfield Town after just one game, how much longer does Magath have to turn things around?

Indeed, it is not often that a manager must apologise to the club's supporters so early in the season, but Fulham's start has been so poor that Magath felt it necessary following Wednesday's loss to Wolves.

However, it remains very early days in the season, and the Cottagers have plenty of time to turn their campaign around. The iPro Stadium may not be the easiest place to start that on paper, but victory away to Derby would certainly give Fulham a huge boost.

Magath still seems to be fiddling with his formation and looking for the best way to set up his new-look side, but he will be quietly confident that it is simply a matter of needing time for them to gel.

Big-money signing Ross McCormack is one of the players who has not hit the ground running at the club, but as last season's top scorer it is surely only a matter of time before he opens his account for Fulham.

The Scot is once again expected to start up front for the Cottagers this weekend, although Magath has already trialled Moussa Dembele, Cauley Woodrow and Hugo Rodallega up front without much success, so it will be interesting to see who partners the former Leeds United man.

Derby, meanwhile, have also struggled to live up to pre-season expectations so far, picking up four points from their first three outings.

One goal in their opening two games suggested a departure from last season's 'entertainers' tag, but that returned on Tuesday in the form of a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Charlton Athletic.

That result was the Rams' first defeat of the season, but as contenders for automatic promotion they would have expected to beat the Addicks.

Manager Steve McClaren was critical of his side's defence following the midweek loss, but he is unlikely to be tempted to change his backline for the first time this season when Fulham come to town.

Further forward, Leon Best may once again be forced to settle for a place on the bench, while Joel Ward will be looking to continue his good form having netted a brace at The Valley on Tuesday.

Recent form

Derby: WWDL

Fulham: LLL

Possible starting lineups

Derby: Grant; Christie, Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth; Bryson, Hughes, Hendrick; Dawkins, Martin, Ward

Fulham: Joronen; Hoogland, Bodurov, Burgess, Stafylidis; Roberts, Parker, Fotheringham, Hyndman; McCormack, Rodallega

Sports Mole says: 3-1

Who will win Saturday's match between Derby and Fulham?

Derby
Fulham
Draw
Derby
52.6%
Fulham
31.6%
Draw
15.8%
Cauley Woodrow (L) of Fulham celebrates his goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Crystal Palace at Craven Cottage on May 11, 2014
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