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Preview: Derby County vs. Birmingham City

Sports Mole takes a closer look at Saturday's Championship clash between Derby County and Birmingham City.

Two damaging defeats have threatened to derail Derby County's promotion bid ahead of their meeting with Birmingham City on Saturday afternoon.

Successive 2-0 defeats to Fulham and Brighton & Hove Albion have come as a shock, and have arrived at a time when all of the promotion hopefuls are under pressure to find their best form.

Despite the disappointing results, Steve McClaren's side remain second, but with just six points separating top and seventh, the Rams boss is fully aware that they can't afford for the slump to be extended.

Losing strikers Chris Martin and Darren Bent has done little to improve McClaren's move, and he has admitted that he will look into the loan market, which means that a new arrival could be involved this weekend.

Before then, Johnny Russell is likely to be trusted to lead the attack at the iPro Stadium, and the pressure will be on the likes of Tom Ince and Jamie Ward to provide support.

Birmingham head into the match with renewed confidence following two victories in the past week, and Gary Rowett will be eyeing a spot in the top half of the table as he looks to deal another blow to Derby's promotion hopes.

A 1-0 victory over Blackpool in midweek was difficult to watch at times, but Rowett is likely to name an unchanged side as he looks to build on the momentum they have gained in recent days.

Derby cruised to a 4-0 victory over Birmingham when the two sides last met on Boxing Day, and the Blues have won just one of the previous six meetings.

Derby:

Form in Championship: DDWWLL
Form in all competitions: LDWWLL

Possible starting lineup: Grant, Shotton, Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth, Mascarell, Hughes, Hendrick, Ince, Ward, Russell

Birmingham:

Recent form: LDLLWW

Possible starting lineup: Randolph, Caddis, Spector, Kiernan, Grounds, Davis, Tesche, Cotterill, Shinnie, Gray, Donaldson

Sports Mole says: 2-1

ID:209437:cQx:QQ:

Who will win the Championship clash between Derby County and Birmingham City?

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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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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Norwich CityNorwich32207545252067
2Brentford32179659342560
3Watford32179643232060
4Swansea CitySwansea30178538191959
5Reading32156114437751
6Cardiff CityCardiff321471148341449
7Bournemouth321310946321449
8Barnsley31146113635148
9Middlesbrough32137123734346
10Stoke CityStoke32111293735245
11Millwall3291673128343
12Bristol City32133163243-1142
13Queens Park RangersQPR301010103034-440
14Preston North EndPreston32124163442-840
15Blackburn RoversBlackburn31116144537839
16Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest32109132731-439
17Luton TownLuton31108132435-1138
18Derby CountyDerby31107142432-837
19Huddersfield TownHuddersfield32106163847-936
20Coventry CityCoventry32810142943-1434
21Birmingham CityBirmingham32710152340-1731
22Rotherham UnitedRotherham3085173341-829
23Sheffield WednesdaySheff Weds3197152135-1428
24Wycombe WanderersWycombe3158182351-2823

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