Liverpool starlet to make Derby debut v Birmingham: Match Preview

Derby County host Birmingham City at Pride Park in front of an expecting home crowd.

Steve McClaren’s recently refreshed Rams take on a Birmingham side coming back from a 4-0 lashing against Leeds. Derby won the LMA performance award for their impressive 3-2 away at promotion rivals Watford. However, Birmingham might have won the award for the worst performance in the Championship last week if they gave one out.

Derby are currently sitting 8th in the league table and manager Steve McClaren will be looking to prolong his impressive start to life at Pride Park.

The East Midlands side won their first home game in the former England manager's first official league game as manager, now they will be looking to replicate the form they had last season at Pride Park. Birmingham boss Lee Clark will just be desperate to keep the pressure off his back. One of the favourites in the ‘sack race’ out of all the Championship clubs, it would seem a point would be a good result for him. The former Huddersfield man seems to keep bouncing from outstanding wins to incredible losses and haven’t been able to find any kind of consistency at all.

Lee Clark will want Birmingham to get the fundamentals right, first and foremost at the game on Saturday. I imagine they will set up to combat the impressive attacking threat of Derby and Dan Burn and Kyle Bartley will have to be on top form to give Birmingham any chance of the win. Derby will look to take the impetuous as the home team and get their midfielders in dangerous positions in and around the box using Chris Martin as the target man as they look to win their battles in the final third.

Andre Wisdom will look to make his league debut aside of captain Richard Keogh and Simon Dawkins on loan from Tottenham could come make his first league start for the club after being introduced from the bench at half-time against Watford. Birmingham will no doubt look to make changes to the side that was humiliated against Leeds, but have took a huge knock with Lingard being out injured and Lee Clark has expressed his disappointment at not being able to start Nikola Zigic due to match fitness. It could be hard for Clark to chop and change for the game at Derby, but he might have a few aces up his sleeve.

Key Battle

Dan Burn vs Chris Martin – Dan Burn especially holds the key to possibly stopping Derby from running riot. The Fulham man has been a shining light for Birmingham this season despite their inconsistency. Derby will look to Chris Martin to lead the line on Saturday and the former Norwich man has become the instigator of a lot of Derby’s impressive attacking play. He’ll be looking to carry on that form.

image: © Liz Phillips

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