Saturday’s lunchtime Championship kick-off sees two heavyweights of the division go head to head in the North East. This fixture also sees Ram’s manager Steve McClaren return to the club where he had one of his best spells in management.
Derby are top of the table having carried on their great form from last season and it would be very surprising if they were not automatically promoted by the end of this season. Middlesbrough are 4th but only two points behind this weekend’s opponents which really makes it a must win for both sides.
Aitor Karanka’s Middlesbrough have received good news in regard to their defence with Jonathan Woodgate set to return to the substitutes’ bench after previously missing out with a hamstring injury. His fellow defender Rhys Williams also returned to training this week after 10 months out with a ruptured Achilles. Karanka will be sitting in the stands for this game as he has received a touchline ban from the FA for an incident during their match with Blackburn in November. Boro currently do not have an assistant manager so one of the coaches will be taking the Spaniard’s role.
There are no new injury worries for the Rams and their defender Richard Keogh will return to the team after recovering from a hamstring strain. Youngsters Will Hughes, Jordon Ibe along with Northern Ireland international Jamie Ward will all be pushing to start this vital game.
Despite being top of the table I believe this will be a struggle for the Rams and expect Boro to haunt their old boss.