Derby V Leeds at Pride Park Stadium : Match Preview

07 December 2012 11:31
Derby V Leeds - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Duo set for late fitness tests

Derby will give Gareth Roberts and Craig Bryson as much time as possible to prove their fitness ahead of the visit of Leeds.

Left-back Roberts (calf) and midfielder Bryson (knee) both missed the 4-1 defeat at Leicester last weekend with injuries sustained during the 1-1 home draw with Cardiff.

They remains doubts for Saturday's match but manager Nigel Clough is hopeful that at least one of them will win the race to be fit.

"They're coming on slowly and they're 50/50 at the moment with regards to being available to face Leeds," said Clough. "We'll take them right to the wire, Saturday morning if necessary, to see if we can get one of them back at least.

"However, if either of them was to be involved it would have to be without risking their fitness. As much as we want them back and out on the pitch, we can't risk them because if they have a setback they could end up missing our entire Christmas programme which would entail something like six matches.

"It's something we're aware of and will take into consideration, of course."

Jamie Ward has missed the last dozen games with a troublesome hamstring injury and the diminutive forward will miss out again this weekend.

Derby have an impressive recent record against Leeds. The Rams are unbeaten in eight matches in all competitions against the Yorkshire side, winning the last seven on the bounce.

Leeds striker El-Hadji Diouf could return to contention.

The Senegalese missed last week's derby win at Huddersfield due to a slight groin strain, but returned to training this week and is likely to feature.

Ross McCormack made his first start since returning from a long-term ankle injury to partner Luciano Becchio at Huddersfield and manager Neil Warnock may be tempted to stick with a winning formula.

Another forward, Luke Varney, will return from his three-match ban following his dismissal at Millwall, while centre-half Jason Pearce and midfielder Michael Brown have both had to patient following their respective suspensions by making do with a place on the substitutes' bench.

Warnock has no new injury or suspension problems and must decide whether to retain Jerome Thomas, on loan from West Brom, or hand a start to fellow winger Ryan Hall, who made an impact when introduced off the bench last week.

Leeds are chasing a fourth straight league win in their bid to close the gap between themselves and the top six.

Source: PA