Derby County will be looking to bounce back from their defeat at the weekend against a side Steve McClaren believes to be the best in Europe.
The Rams, who were outplayed by title challengers Middlesbrough at the weekend, will have to be at their very best on Tuesday night if they are to cause an upset in the Capital One Cup quarter-finals. However, given Chelsea’s squad selection, it will be a tall order.
Speaking to the press ahead of the game, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho reiterated that he would go into the match with his best possible team – a smart choice given the quality Derby have produced this season.
‘’I will pick the best possible team,’’ Mourinho confirmed. ‘’We are going to play against a top team in the Championship.
"The difference between a top team in the Championship and Premier League teams is very, very small. We played there last season and it was not easy.’’
McClaren’s men will be eager to showcase their abilities in a better light on Tuesday night after being caught on camera having an off day on Saturday.
The former England boss may look to make changes, with his usual game plan of dominating possession looking unlikely against such a well-drilled side.
Predicted Derby County team to play Chelsea:
Cyrus Christie, Richard Keogh, Jake Buxton, Craig Forsyth
Will Hughes Craig Bryson
Jordon Ibe Johnny Russell
Subs: Kelle Roos, Lee Naylor, Paul Coutts, Jeff Hendrick, Simon Dawkins, Jamie Ward, Leon Best
In defence, Jake Buxton is likely to come in for the suspended Ryan Shotton at centre-half and will partner captain Richard Keogh.
In midfield, Will Hughes is likely to get his first start since the game against Leeds United and is most likely to partner Scotland international Craig Bryson.
In attack, it’s much harder to gauge how McClaren will plan to attack the Chelsea game.
Liverpool loanee Jordon Ibe and Johnny Russell may be favoured over the likes of Jamie Ward, who is returning from injury, and the more conservative Simon Dawkins.
Ibe and Russell, who can provide a spark out of nothing for the Rams, could well be McClaren’s best chance at getting a result from the game.