Derby County manager Nigel Pearson (L)
Derby County host fellow promotion contenders Aston Villa in a highly-anticipated enounter this weekend in what is arguably the standout fixture of a packed Championship schedule.
Both teams currently have four points from their first three matches, with many pointing to the fact that both sides could take some time to adapt under new managers Nigel Pearson and Roberto Di Matteo.
Derby have been knocking on the door for promotion for the past three seasons, and their huge outlay in terms of transfer fees spend last summer saw them once again reach the play-offs but come up short.
Villa, on the other hand, suffered relegation from the Premier League last season but they have set their sights on an immediate return with new owner Dr. Tony Xia providing heavy backing.
Aston Villa manager Roberto Di Matteo
The Villans have brought in the likes of James Chester, Tommy Elphick, Mile Jedinak and Ross McCormack this summer, while the Rams in contrast have yet to make a single signing.
Both clubs have a number of options and while at full strength, few could argue they along with fellow promotion rivals Newcastle United and Norwich City have the best squads in the Championship.
But what would a combined Derby-Villa best XI look like? Here below we’ve given it our best shot.
Picking a Derby-Villa best XI is almost an impossible task considering the quality in which both sides possess, but that eleven above has a nice blend of youthfulness, experience, pace and power.
Derby have a range if midfielders which could be considered such as Jeff Hendrick, Craig Bryson, Jacob Butterfield, George Thorne and Bradley Johnson, but Villa have options too with stars such as Rudy Gestede and Jordan Ayew ultimately missing out.
Derby's Will Hughes
On the flip side, one possible area for weakness with both sides is at right-back, what with Leando Bacuna arguably not a natural there while Derby’s Cyrus Christie is prone to the odd lapse in concentration.
As for the forwards - who could complain at a McCormack-Martin duo? Both players have notched more than 100 Championship goals combined over the past three seasons.
Aston Villa's Ross McCormack reacts