Three reasons Derby County will be promoted and three reasons they won't

It's been a turbulent campaign for the Rams, but will it end on a high?

The Championship returns this weekend and for teams like Derby County, this is the home straight. The Rams have endured a turbulent campaign so far but sit comfortably inside the top six with eight games remaining. Will they begin next season in the Premier League?

Here are three reasons they will...

Squad - It's probably cost more than some Premier League sides to assemble and is arguably better than that of Sheffield Wednesday and Brighton & Hove Albion - at least - on paper. If it can find its feet again and replicate the title form it showed pre-Christmas, those around them will have plenty to worry about.

Will Hughes - Ruled out since the season's opening day, the midfielder has been a big loss for the Rams. But having played 45 minutes of Shaun Barker's recent Testimonial, the 20-year-old looks set to make a contribution in the closing weeks of the campaign.

Harry Redknapp - No-one outside of the club can be quite sure of Redknapp's exact role at the iPro Stadium, and crucially how much influence he has over first-team affairs. His experience could prove invaluable, not least as he led QPR out of the division at Derby's expense two years ago. Jordan's players are reportedly keen for the 69-year-old to extend his stay with them - fingers crossed he'll be as popular in the East Midlands as he is in the Middle East.

And here are three they won't...

The run-in - Of their remaining league fixtures, the Rams are due to face five of the current top eight - two of which are on the road (Cardiff and Brighton). Back-to-back games against the bottom two (Bolton and Charlton) should come as welcome respite, but even the following week's trip to 19th-place Bristol City could prove tough - though the resurgent Robins may be safe by then.

An unfavourable play-off record - A seven-point gap is perhaps too big to bridge, leaving Derby staring at the play-offs. The Rams have competed in five of them so far, and been promoted just once. They were beaten semi-finalists in 1992 and 2005 and suffered Wembley defeats in 1994 and 2014, so in the interest of symmetry, a more successful campaign is required this time.

Form - Derby went top with a win against Fulham on Boxing Day but since then they've won just four league matches. It's a run of form that, had the season begun after that game, would leave Darren Wassall's men 18th in the standings.

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