Predicted Derby County team to play Birmingham: Koblenz and Bunjaku on the bench

Derby County Huddle

Predicted Derby County line-up to play Birmingham City on Friday 26th December 2014 at 15:00. Venue: St Andrews, Birmingham.

A depleted Derby County side will be looking to bounce back against Birmingham City after going three games without a win.

According to the Derbyshire Telegraph, the Rams could be without as many as eight players after four key players took knocks in their last game against Norwich City. Craig Bryson, Jeff Hendrick, Cyrus Christie and Johnny Russell are all in the treatment room labelled as doubts, while Jamie Ward, Zak Whitbread, Jake Buxton and George Thorne have also been ruled out.

The injuries couldn’t have come at a worse time for Steve McClaren who will be looking to put a poor run of form behind him in pursuit of the top spot heading into 2015. The East Midlands side have dropped from top spot to fifth in recent weeks after picking up just 16 from a possible 30 points in their last 10 games.

In contrast, Birmingham are in their best form of the past two seasons following the arrival of former Rams academy coach Gary Rowett. The West Midland side have won five, drawn two and lost just once since his arrival, propelling them to 15th in the league table.

Predicted Derby County team to play Birmingham City:

Lee Grant

Paul Coutts, Richard Keogh, Ryan Shotton, Craig Forsyth

John Eustace

Omar Mascarell, Will Hughes

Simon Dawkins                                                         Jordan Ibe

Chris Martin

Subs: Kelle Roos, Lee Naylor, Farrend Rawson, Tom Koblenz, Alban Bunjaku Ivan Calero, Leon Best

Analysis:

In a hugely depleted squad, central midfielder Paul Coutts could be asked to play right-back in what could prove to be the biggest shock in the team selection.

Keogh, Shotton and Forsyth will keep their places in the starting line-up, while Under-21 defender Ferrend Rawson could make his first league appearance from the bench.

With Jeff Hendrick and Craig Bryson potentially out for the Boxing Day clash, the returning John Eustace could be thrown straight in to the starting line-up, allowing Omar Mascarell and Will Hughes to play in the more advanced roles.

The injuries in the central midfield position are likely to open two places up on the bench for the Under-21 players to take advantage, with the in-form Tom Koblenz and Alban Bunjaku the most likely candidates.

In attack, Ibe will keep his place, with Dawkins replacing Russell, and Chris Martin will take up his usual place as the spearhead of the Rams' attacking trio.

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