The Opposition View: Derby County
Luke Barraclough answers my questions ahead of Saturday's trip to Pride Park.
Did you expect such a good start to the season and do you think Derby are capable of maintaining a play-off push this season? I don't think any Derby fan would have believed that we'd still be in the top 6 come October. I wasn't expecting the great start at all. With a fully fit squad to choose from this team is capable but we are down to the bare bones at the moment and it's showing, I don't think we'll be in the play offs come May personally. Nigel Clough recently signed a new contract at Derby. Are you convinced he is the man to take the club forward? He had a lot of haters but he's brought stability and worked wonders on a shoestring budget. The wage bill has been slashed so much in his time here yet we still have remained fairly competitive. We're definatley heading in the right direction so I'm 100% behind him. Admit it, you had a little chuckle to yourself when Nottingham Forest announced Steve Cotterill to be their next manager, didn't you? I admit I did, purely because of the names being branded about to take the hot seat previously. I don't think he'll pull up any trees (ignore the pun) but he will keep them pretty solid and guide them away from the bottom 3. Luke Varney used to represent the Rams, what are Derby fans' general feelings about him? I think the general feeling on him from most Rams fans is that he didn't get a fair chance here at Derby. Some said he wasn't good enough but he scored goals for Premier League Blackpool and isn't doing too bad at Pompey at a glance, I wish him all the best but I hope he doesn't come back to haunt us! Looking through your squad there doesn't seem to be anyone who stands out. So who are the key men in your team? I'd say our key man is our new centre back, Jason Shackell. Defensively we're much more solid with him in the team. I'd also keep an eye on Ben Davies who is a set-piece 'specialist' and another arrival this summer Craig Bryson who keeps our midfield ticking. I will put a mention in for 15 year old Mason Bennett too, made his debut last weekend at Boro and is definatley a star in the making. What are your side's biggest weaknesses that Pompey could exploit come Saturday? Due to an injury to John Brayford we haven't got a recognised right back at the club who is fit so we have been getting exploited down our right, we are pretty weak defensively all round at the moment though. What sort of match are you expecting at Pride Park on Saturday? We need a win so I expect us to go for it from the first whistle, Portsmouth are dangerous though so I'm sure there will be plenty of chances at both ends. Predict the outcome of the game. I'll go for a 1-1 draw. Varney to score on his return!
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