Mar 22, 2014 at 12.15pm UK at ​Pride Park
DerbyDerby County
5-0
Nott'm ForestNottingham Forest
Bryson (6', 32', 69' pen.), Hendrick (37'), Russell (54')
Thorne (18')
FT(HT: 3-0)

Cox (34'), Fox (73'), Lascelles (85')

Preview: Derby County vs. Nottingham Forest

Manager of Derby County Steve McClaren looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Derby County and Leeds United at Pride Park Stadium on October 05, 2013
© Getty Images
Sports Mole looks ahead to the East Midlands derby at the iPro Stadium as Derby host Nottingham Forest with both sides in need of a return to winning ways.

The iPro Stadium plays host to a huge East Midlands derby on Saturday as Derby County take on Nottingham Forest in a match between two teams struggling for form.

Both sides enjoyed a magnificent run at the end of 2013 and the start of this year, but recent weeks have not been so kind to either club as their respective targets have taken a major blow.

It was not long ago that Derby had established themselves as favourites to join Leicester City in being automatically promoted to the Premier League next season after they went on a streak of 14 wins and just two defeats from 18 Championship encounters.

However, they now trail second-placed Burnley by 10 points and look increasingly likely to be forced to settle for a playoff place at the end of the campaign.

While they still sit relatively comfortably in third, just seven points separate them from dropping out of the top six and, with such a competitive playoff race shaping up, a return to form sooner rather than later is important to ensure that they don't start sliding back down the table.

The Rams have not won any of their last four outings and, even more worryingly for a side who had previously been the top scorers in the division, they have not found the back of the net in any of those games either.

Indeed, Steve McClaren has seen his side score just three goals in their last seven league matches having managed 57 in the previous 29.

On the flip side, their defensive record has improved having also only conceded three goals in that seven-match spell, although they remain the leakiest defence in the top nine.

Forest are experiencing similar problems, although the threat of dropping out of the playoff positions is more immediate for them.

They now sit in the much-coveted sixth place, just one point above Reading and Brighton & Hove Albion having played a game more than the Seagulls. Put simply, their fate is now out of their own hands.

Such a scenario was almost unthinkable in mid-February, when Forest looked to be pushing for automatic promotion on the back of a 16-match unbeaten streak in all competitions.

However, a shock exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Sheffield United has sparked a seven-match winless streak for Billy Davies's side, including dropped points to the likes of Barnsley and Doncaster Rovers.

If that run stretches to eight games against their local rivals then they are likely to find themselves out of the top six and needing a drastic change of fortunes to claw their way back into the reckoning.

The two clubs, inextricably linked by the towering figure of the late great Brian Clough, are fierce rivals at the best of times, but with so much riding on Saturday's match, this could be a derby to savour.

The hosts will be without long-term absentee Paul Coutts, but newly-crowned Football League Young Player of the Year Will Hughes is hopeful of recovering in time.

Forest, meanwhile, have substantial injury troubles as Kelvin Wilson, Chris Cohen, David Vaughan, Henri Lansbury, Jack Hobbs and Andy Reid are all sidelined.

Recent form

Derby: WWLLDD

Nottm Forest: DLLLDD

Possible starting lineups

Derby: Grant; Wisdom, Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth; Hughes, Eustace, Bryson; Bamford, Martin, Ward

Nottm Forest: Darlow; Halford, Collins, Lascelles, Fox; Jara, Greening; Mackie, Abdoun, Paterson; Cox

Sports Mole says: 2-1

Sheffield United manager Danny Wilson looks on during a League One match at Brammall Lane on February 1, 2013
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