Coventry City head to Derby County looking for their first three points on the road this season.

The Sky Blues travel to Pride Park full of confidence after going three games unbeaten in the Championship, their latest achievement coming from a deserved point at top of the table Norwich City.

But a trip to bottom of the league always poses a completely different challenge, not least because expectations suddenly go through the roof when playing the worst side in the division.

Football is never as clear cut as it looks on paper, of course, and although the Rams stretched their winless run to ten games at home to Wycombe Wanderers at the weekend, there is still plenty of quality in the squad to suggest interim boss Wayne Rooney can turn things round quickly.

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Here football writer Steve Nicholson from our sister title DerbyshireLive gives the lowdown on the opposition.

Derby have gone from a 10th place finish and push for the play-offs last season to bottom of the league. What’s gone wrong at Pride Park this season?

“Things started to go wrong at the back end of last season when they lost four of their final five matches,” he says.

“The absence of forwards Martyn Waghorn and Tom Lawrence in the early weeks of this season hindered Derby, as did their failure to sign a replacement for centre forward Chris Martin.

“The goals dried up, they have struggled for wins and confidence has taken a hit. It is also the second season for a number of the young players who broke through last season, and second seasons can prove tougher.”

Is this a good time for the Sky Blues to be playing the Rams or does Saturday’s positive first half performance suggest things are starting to turn for the better?

“The first half against Wycombe was more positive, it had to be after the deflating defeat at Middlesbrough a few days earlier.

“You can often get a bounce when a new manager takes charge of the team. Wayne Rooney has stepped up as interim boss and he made his mark by making seven changes and asking for a more direct approach.

“We saw this for 60/70 minutes but old problems resurfaced in the second half, Wycombe equalised and came within inches of winning when they rattled the bar late on.

Derby County’s George Evans (second right) and team-mates appear dejected after Wycombe Wanderers’ Matt Bloomfield (not pictured) scores his side’s first goal of the game during the Sky Bet Championship match at Pride Park, Derby.

“Is it a good time to play Derby? They have won once in 14 league games, have lost nine and failed to score in eight.

“They have not scored more than once in a game this season and are without a win in 10! Runs have to come to an end sometime, that is the hope.”

Wayne Rooney took himself out of the team on Saturday to concentrate on managing the team. How much of a miss is he on the pitch?

“His performances this season and at the back end of last season have come in for criticism, some of it deserved because he has not reached the levels he showed at the beginning of the year, although few of the players have.

“He did start in two of Derby’s best three performances – the win at Norwich and the draw at Bournemouth – and no player in the squad possesses more quality than him, nor experience.

Wayne Rooney, interim managers of Derby County reacts during the Sky Bet Championship match between Derby County and Wycombe Wanderers

“He was arguably Derby’s best player at Bristol a little over a week ago but juggling managing and playing is not easy at any level.

“He said he felt he could handle both, but at times he looked like his mind was on two jobs.”

What formation are Derby likely to play and how do you think they’ll approach things tactically on Tuesday night?

“They have been 4-2-3-1 or 3-4-3 for much of this season.

“On Saturday against Wycombe, they started with more of a 4-4-1-1 although it was fluid.

“They were certainly more direct and looked better having a focal point of the attack in Colin Kazim-Richards, who was handed a first start.

“Interim manager Wayne Rooney has said Derby will be more direct as they look to collect much-needed points in a bid to climb off the bottom of the table.”

Who are the key danger men likely to cause Coventry problems on the night and why?

“Striker Colin Kazim-Richards proved a real handful against Wycombe. Wide attackers Tom Lawrence and Kamil Jozwiak are capable of match-turning moments, but must find greater consistency.”

What are the main weaknesses of the side?

“A shortage of goals and keeping clean sheets.

“Derby have scored only six in 14 league games and only three from open play. They have not scored more than once in any of their 16 fixtures in all competitions.

Derby County’s Colin Kazim-Richards reacts after a missed chance against Wycombe

“They are without a clean sheet in 10 and have kept just one in the League this season.”

What’s your prediction and why?

“2-1 to Derby. It’s almost two months since they won a game. That has to change, surely?”





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