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The run-in for any club in the playoff picture can be difficult but for a team of Derby County’s mental fragility, the remaining 9 fixtures will be important. Derby still sit 5th in the Championship table and will remain hopeful of making an impact in the playoffs at the end of the season. However, their fixtures over the Easter weekend may prove decisive.
The first against Sunderland will let the Rams fans know how strong or weak the team really is and if they can’t get past Sunderland, then they don’t deserve to be in the promotion picture. Their next match against Preston will let the fans know if this team is capable of defeating teams around them to mount a serious promotion challenge.
A recent statistical look at the performance of Scott Carson by the Derby Telegraph suggested that Carson should be in line for a trip to Russia with England this summer. Although it is a bit far far-fetched, he is having an excellent season.
After fighting with Marcus Olsson for the left-back berth all season, Forsyth should keep his place against Sunderland.
CB – Richard Keogh
The captain will have a big role to play in the coming months if the Rams are to make it to the playoffs this year.
Probably Derby’s player of the year, Davis has settled well into the team and has proved to be a key asset in Derby’s attempt to win promotion.
Has not had the best of seasons in a Rams jersey but he has the quality to hurt the opposition. If he improves the offensive side of the game, he will be very important to Derby.
George Thorne must go straight into the team against Sunderland. His classy passing and astute defending will be needed.
If Ledley fails to recover in time, Hanson could start here in central midfield.
The former Ipswich player has been low on confidence recently but this is a real opportunity for him.
Matej Vydra might not make it to the starting XI for this game as he is doubtful to feature. Palmer has been a shining light in an otherwise poor second half of Derby’s season.
The Austrian played well recently against QPR and will be a difficult player for the Sunderland defence to handle.
Jerome needs to start scoring for Derby and quickly so. There is no better team to do it against than Sunderland.