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Preview: Derby County vs. Rotherham United

Sports Mole previews the match in the Championship between Derby County and Rotherham United.

Derby County play host to Rotherham United on Saturday afternoon looking to extend their unbeaten run in the Championship to nine matches.

Rotherham make the trip to the East Midlands on the back of four games without success, and newly-appointed boss Neil Redfearn is aware that his side need to end that run sooner rather than later.

Derby County

Paul Clement manager of Derby County during the Sky Bet Championship match between Derby County and Middlesbrough at Pride Park Stadium on August 18, 2015© Getty Images

When Derby failed to register a win in their opening five Championship matches under Paul Clement, there were fears that the Rams had taken a step back after enduring a disastrous run of results during the second half of the previous campaign.

However, a run of eight games without defeat, which has included six victories, has seen Derby move into the playoffs, and expectations have increased to such an extent that there appears little reason why they cannot continue to move closer to unbeaten leaders Brighton & Hove Albion.

Clement will be keen to keep everyone's feet firmly on the ground, but with the club boasting one of the strongest squads in English football's second tier and top goalscorer Chris Martin nearing double figures for the season, the former Real Madrid coach may find that increasingly difficult the longer they remain the form team in the division.

The East Midlands side would have been disappointed to have only picked up a point at Blackburn Rovers, but they responded with a 2-1 win away at Huddersfield Town thanks to a winner from George Thorne.

It was a big moment for the 22-year-old, who missed much of last season through injury and had not scored since May 2014, and if the West Bromwich Albion man can kick on from here, his contribution in the middle of the park could prove vital during the upcoming winter months.

Recent form: DWWWDW

Rotherham United

Leeds caretaker manager Neil Redfearn shouts instructions during the npower Championship match between Charlton Athletic and Leeds United at the Valley on April 06, 2013© Getty Images

When Rotherham made the decision to part company with Steve Evans after a difference of opinions regarding the ambitions of the club, the overriding feeling was that the Millers had made a mistake in going separate ways with a manager that had not only won them promotion to the Championship, but retained the club's status in the second tier.

Rotherham had also registered back-to-back wins before Evans's departure, but since then, it has been four games without success for the Yorkshire club, and new boss Redfearn will know that they need to act fast to get another three points on the board.

The inconsistent form of the teams above them means that Rotherham remain just four points off 17th place, currently occupied by Evans's new club Leeds United, and getting nearer that position would be realistic if they could avoid what is fast becoming a trademark slow start.

Rotherham have not scored a goal in the opening 30 minutes in their last 11 matches, and they have regularly found themselves behind during that same period of the game to leave them fighting an uphill battle.

They held out until half time against Sheffield Wednesday last week, but two goals soon after the restart saw the Yorkshire derby slip away from them, and unless Rotherham can find a way to keep out Derby during the opening stages on Saturday, it is hard to see them avoiding a fourth defeat in five outings.

Recent form: WWLLDL

Team News

Tom Ince for Derby County on February 10, 2015© Getty Images

Clement has revealed that winger Tom Ince will not be available for Saturday's game, but he could make a return when the Rams host Queens Park Rangers.

Ince's place could be taken by Andreas Weimann, while Jeff Hendrick is back in contention after returning to training after sitting out the last two matches through illness.

Redfearn could recall Danny Ward and Joe Newell after they were both declared available, but the game comes too soon for Lee Frecklington.

Defender Farrend Rawson, who is on loan from Derby, is unable to face his parent club.

Derby County possible starting lineup:
Carson, Christie, Keogh, Shackell, Forsyth, Butterfield, Thorne, Johnson, Weimann, Martin, Russell

Rotherham United possible starting lineup:
Camp, Buxton, Broadfoot, Collins, Toffolo, Thorpe, G.Ward, Green, Andreu, Clarke-Harris, Derbyshire

Head To Head

Neither Derby nor Rotherham have been able to establish any dominance in previous meetings, with the Rams winning 15 times from 43 attempts in comparison to 13 victories for the Millers.

Nine of those matches have come since the turn of the millennium, with Derby winning five times and losing just twice.

Derby are unbeaten in 10 home games against Rotherham, with their last defeat in the East Midlands coming in 1965.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Derby County 3-1 Rotherham United

While Rotherham have not suffered a two-goal defeat in almost two months, the statistics indicate that the run could come to an end this weekend. Derby look as confident as any team in the league right now, and it would come as a surprise if they do not enjoy a comfortable 90 minutes at the iPro Stadium.

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Who will win Saturday's clash between Derby and Rotherham?

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Leeds caretaker manager Neil Redfearn shouts instructions during the npower Championship match between Charlton Athletic and Leeds United at the Valley on April 06, 2013
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