Apr 26, 2014 at 3pm UK at ​Pride Park
DerbyDerby County
4-2
Watford
Hendrick (28', 81'), Forsyth (60'), Martin (86')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Deeney (5'), Ranegie (70')
Cassetti (4'), Riera (22'), Tozser (51'), Deeney (90')
Cassetti (68')

Preview: Derby County vs. Watford

Preview: Derby vs. Watford
© Getty Images
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Championship meeting between Derby County and Watford at the iPro Stadium.

Derby County go into Saturday's match at home to Watford knowing that a draw would be enough to secure third place in the Championship this season.

The Rams saw automatic promotion become a mathematical impossibility on Monday, but they still lead fourth-placed Queens Park Rangers by five points, while their superior goal difference gives them an edge should they finish level.

Finishing third would hand Steve McClaren's side the favourable draw in the playoffs, although there is uncertainty who they will face, with six teams still in with a shot of clinching the final spot.

One point from their final two matches is all they require for that, but McClaren will want to ensure that his side are the form team going into the playoffs with back-to-back wins to end the season.

They have already won four in a row going into Saturday's match and have generally been in superb form since McClaren took over at the iPro Stadium.

The Rams have lost just one of their 10 league matches at home since New Year's Day and have conceded just three goals in their last eight.

McClaren could be tempted to make changes to his side in order to keep players fresh for the playoffs, but he will definitely be without Shaun Barker and Paul Coutts.

Watford, meanwhile, are still mathematically in with a shout of the playoffs themselves, although with five teams better placed than them to overhaul Reading at such a late stage of the season, Giuseppe Sannino is unlikely to be entertaining the idea of a push for the top six.

Instead, he will have his sights set on securing a top-half finish and getting things ready for a more consistent playoff charge next season.

Victory could lift them above Bournemouth in the table due to their superior goal difference, although they will need to bounce back from Easter Monday's 2-1 defeat to QPR.

That result ended a six-match unbeaten streak for the Hornets, although only half of those matches ended in victories, with the other three finishing all square.

The team's away form is likely to be high on Sannino's list of priorities for next season with just one win in their last 17 games on the road in all competitions, and just four away league wins all season.

He may also be looking at new recruits over the summer, so the final two games will be a chance for his fully fit squad to prove to him that they should stay at the club.

Recent form

Derby: WLWWWW

Watford: WDWDWL

Possible starting lineups

Derby: Grant; Wisdom, Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth; Hendrick, Thorne, Bryson; Bamford, Martin, Russell

Watford: Almunia; Cassetti, Angella, Ekstrand; Pudil, McGugan, Battocchio, Tozser, Riera; Deeney, Ranegie

Sports Mole says: 2-1

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
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