Brentford head into their Championship fixture at Derby County looking for the victory which could take them back into the top two of the standings. Meanwhile, on the back of a five-match winless streak, the Rams find themselves back in a battle to avoid relegation to League One.
Derby County are back in Championship action when they face Brentford at Pride Park Stadium on Tuesday night (7pm kick off).
The Rams will look to end their five-match winless run and they have failed to score in their last four games.
They sit 19th in the Championship table, seven points above the bottom three although third-bottom Rotherham United have four games in hand.
How will manager Wayne Rooney sharpen the attack? Will he hand starts to winger Patrick Roberts and midfielder Louie Watson, who both impressed when they came off the bench in Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat by Millwall?
While having over a week to stew over the 1-0 defeat at Norwich City was less than ideal, Brentford boss Thomas Frank would have been satisfied for the unforeseen respite after a busy seven months.
That break undoubtedly helped the Bees on Friday evening as they edged out Blackburn Rovers, opponents who were playing their third game in less than a week.
A fresher side were able to keep Brentford in contention for automatic promotion at a time when Watford and Swansea City look capable of winning the majority of their remaining matches.
Ivan Toney’s winner at Ewood Park came from the penalty spot, but Frank will be delighted that his backline managed to keep a clean sheet for just the second time in 13 fixtures.
Derby County’s manager Wayne Rooney before the match on March 6, 2024© Reuters
At a time when Brentford are bidding to return to the top two, Derby and Wayne Rooney are finding it increasingly difficult to move away from the bottom three.
Although things once appeared rosy with the England legend in charge, the honeymoon period has now been declared over with just two points coming from five fixtures.
Despite keeping things relatively tight in defence, the East Midlands side have now failed to score in their last four matches, their only goal in five coming in the latter stages of the derby with Nottingham Forest.
Rooney will recognise that their barren spell in the final third will only encourage Rotherham United, who trail by seven points with four matches in hand.
While Derby’s current position is currently more favourable than that of the Millers, failure to get more points on the board before the international break will leave Rooney with much to ponder.
Brentford’s Saman Ghoddos in action with Stoke’s Tommy Smith on February 27, 2024© Reuters
Frank could hand a start to Saman Ghoddos, who dropped out of the team to accommodate the return of Christian Norgaard against Blackburn.
Sergi Canos may also get the nod over Tariqe Fosu-Henry, but Pontus Jansson and Rico Henry remain out of contention.
Rooney must decide to stick with the 3-4-3 formation which was used during Derby’s defeat against Millwall on Saturday.
While mass changes are unlikely to be made, Andre Wisdom, Max Bird and Louie Sibley could all be recalled.
Derby County possible starting lineup:
Roos; Wisdom, Edmundson, Clarke, Forsyth, Bird, Shinnie; Waghorn, Sibley, Jozwiak; Kazim-Richards
Brentford possible starting lineup:
Raya; Dalsgaard, Reid, Pinnock, Bech Sorensen; Jensen, Norgaard, Janelt; Mbeumo, Toney, Canos