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Preview: Derby County vs. Nottingham Forest

Sports Mole looks ahead to Saturday's early Championship kickoff between East Midlands rivals Derby County and Nottingham Forest.

Revenge will be on the minds of those of a Nottingham Forest disposition when they face Derby County at the iPro Stadium in the early Championship kickoff this weekend.

The Rams humiliated their East Midlands rivals in the corresponding fixture last season, running out 5-0 victors to record their biggest win over Forest since 1898.

The odds on a repeat of that scoreline may not be as big as you might think, with Derby on the up and Forest very much in a prolonged rut of form.

Saturday's hosts have won four on the bounce in all competitions, all without conceding a goal, while their 1-0 victory at fellow high-flyers Ipswich Town last weekend saw them return to the automatic promotion places.

Indeed, they currently sit level on points with leaders Bournemouth, so anything other than defeat would send Steve McClaren's men top of the table for a few hours at least.

Chris Martin has been a standout performer for the Rams so far this season, and he should continue up front having notched his 100th career goal in the slender victory over Ipswich.

A new face could also feature for McClaren following the signing of Stephen Warnock this week, with the left-back in line to be named in the squad at least.

There will be no John Eustace, however, as the midfielder serves a one-match ban, with Omar Mascarell or Craig Bryson the most likely candidates to replace him.

Jeff Hendrick is hopeful of recovering from a head injury in time, but George Thorne will not be rushed back having only recently returned to training following six months on the sidelines.

The Rams have only lost one league game at home all season, and they come up against a side that has won the same number of matches on the road since August.

It is now three games since Forest scored on their travels, while they have only scored three in their last seven outings both home and away.

Goals have been a major issue since Forest began their poor spell of form, and their tally of seven different goalscorers is the lowest spread in the league.

That is one of many reasons why Stuart Pearce is favourite to be the next Championship manager sacked, but the main one is a run of just two wins in their last 20 outings in all competitions.

That includes a third-round FA Cup exit at the hands of League One side Rochdale, while their last league outing saw them beaten 2-0 at home by Sheffield Wednesday.

As a result, they are now in the bottom half of the table despite being the season's early pacesetters, and actually find themselves closer to the relegation zone than they are to the playoffs.

Circumstances are certainly a lot different to when these two met at the City Ground in September, with that match ending all square.

Chris Cohen and Andy Reid remain sidelined for Pearce, but David Vaughan and Matty Fryatt are pushing for a starting berth.

Derby:

Form in Championship: WLDWWW
Form in all competitions: LDWWWW

Possible starting lineup: Grant; Christie, Shotton, Keogh, Forsyth; Hendrick, Mascarell, Hughes; Ibe, Martin, Russell

Nottingham Forest:

Form in Championship: DDDLLL
Form in all competitions: DDLLLL

Possible starting lineup: Darlow; Kane, Lascelles, Mancienne, Lichaj; Tesche, Osborn, Burke, Paterson, Antonio; Assombalonga

Sports Mole says: 3-1


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Derby County's English manager Steve McClaren stands on the sideline during the English Championship Play Off final football match between Derby County and Queens Park Rangers at Wembley Stadium in London on May 24, 2014
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