A look at how the two midfielders statistically compare this season ahead of Saturday afternoon's potential meeting.
After earning his first league start since January 17 in Tuesday night’s 2-0 defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion, Derby County midfielder Craig Bryson is aiming to retain his place for Saturday’s home clash with Birmingham City, when he could do battle with Blues newboy Robert Tesche.
It’s been a difficult campaign so far for the Rams ace, who earned the club’s Player of the Year award last season after netting 16 goals in 45 Championship games, but his production this term has suffered a significant downturn.
With just three goals and three assists, the Scotland international has found himself struggling to break back into Steve McClaren’s line-up of late after missing time with a “couple of niggles”, and told the Derby Telegraph this week that his head coach has also been asking him to fill a deeper midfield role.
“I've been playing in a slightly different position this season, where I've not been getting in the box as much as I did last season,” he said.
"The gaffer wants to control the game a bit more, so I've been playing a bit deeper, which makes it harder to get into the box. It's just one of those things.”
Tesche, meanwhile, joined Birmingham from Nottingham Forest earlier this week on a loan deal until the end of the season, before making an immediate impact in Wednesday night’s debut with an assist in the 1-0 home win over bottom-dwellers Blackpool.
The German was a regular starter under the since-departed Stuart Pearce following his August arrival from Hamburg but, like Bryson, has endured some recent misfortune, with the incoming Dougie Freedman dropping him from the squad altoghter.
The pair evidently both have something to prove then should they meet on the weekend, with the stats clearly highlighting where their particular strengths lie in comparison to one another.
|Position||Team||Goals||Assists||Total Key Passes||Passing Accuracy||Total Tackles||Duels Won||Duel Success||Interceptions||Appearances||Mins Played|
|Robert Tesche||MF||Birmingham / Forest||2||3||20||80%||71||151||55%||42||23||1,744|
While Bryson leads the way in terms of passing, Tesche's defensive superiority is fairly obvious, with the on-loan midfielder recording more tackles, duels and interceptions than his counterpart this season, despite playing fewer minutes.
That goes some way towards suggesting that the Derby man could be in for a tough afternoon if handed a second consecutive start, with a physical battle expected in the centre of the park against a Birmingham side who have been reinvigorated since Gary Rowett's arrival as manager.
Nevertheless, much will depend on how McClaren opts to set up his midfield for their visit, with Bryson having the potential to thrive if afforded the freedom to push forward into the final third and exploit a defence which has conceded 50 goals from 35 league games this season.
With the previously in-form Darren Bent now ruled out for a month with a hamstring injury, joining fellow striker Chris Martin on the treatment table, Derby could certainly do with the former Kilmarnock star rediscovering his past goalscoring form, but a consistent spot in the side has to be won back first.