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View From The Town End - Derby

Feels like an age since we were dusting ourselves off following that 3-1 defeat at Brentford. After a two-week break we return to Championship action against last year's beaten Play-Off finalists Derby and Rams fan Ollie from Derby County Blog is here to give us the lowdown on tomorrow's opponents.

Jamie McDonald

How would you sum up Derby's season so far?

I asked my fellow supporters to give Derby a mark out of ten for the season so far on Twitter the other day. Most of them rated the Rams 7/10. When you consider that we are fourth in the table, one point off the top and through to the fourth round of the League Cup - with one defeat in 14 games in all competitions - perhaps that tells you something about the expectation levels around the iPro Stadium at present.

Do you think the players and fans have gotten over last season's Wembley disappointment?

Yes, to an extent, but then again, it will basically feel like there is 'unfinished business' to attend to until we get promoted. The start to this season was crucial - the opening game at home against Rotherham was an archetypal potential banana skin, but we won it 1-0 with a late goal. Losing at Charlton was a real shock to the system and perhaps engendered a few nerves, but that was in August and we haven't lost since (touch wood).

Probably the most important result in the unbeaten sequence was actually a 1-1 draw, at Nottingham Forest. Our arch-rivals were unbeaten and top of the nascent league table at the time. Clipping their wings with a late equaliser in a game that was more about dogged determination not to lose than flowing football was big.

The players are not showing any signs of a 'hangover' from Wembley and it's interesting to note that Wigan's boss Uwe Rösler has offered their play-off disappointment from last season as an excuse for the Latics' awful form. Well, if anybody had a right to use that excuse, it was us, but it's clear that everybody connected with Derby is looking forward, not back.

Just how good is Will Hughes and what is his potential?

Hughes has the potential to play for the full England team and that, I presume, is his career aim. He barely ever wastes a pass and is developing an eye for a beautiful goal. He has developed a lot physically since making his breakthrough and is in his third full season as a first-teamer already, at the age of 19. His head is screwed on, he obviously has the right guidance around him and there are no limits to what he can achieve. Now that he's established himself as a top Championship midfielder, the next stage for Will is to help Derby to get promoted and hopefully, he will then stay with us for long enough to prove that he can cut it in the Premier League. Afford him space to play in at your peril.

Any fond memories of games against Reading?

No, actually! Look through the history books and you'll see that Reading have generally had the upper hand in recent years. I do remember a 2-1 win at Pride Park in 2009/10, but Derby were pretty crap in those days and the most distinct memory I have of the game was the club mascot Rammie taking the piss out of Brian Howard as he lay injured on the ground. It turned out that Howard had broken his arm, if I remember correctly. Not cool.

Any not so fond ones?

I refer you to the previous answer. I think the defeat that annoyed me the most was a 0-1 away loss in our abortive Premier League season of 2007/8. It was one of the few games that season where I thought we genuinely had a chance to get something and losing it was just utterly depressing. But there have been a few other awful defeats as well. The 1-3 at Pride Park last season was pretty much the end of Nigel Clough's tenure at Derby, with only a great goal from Hughes as a consolation.

Who should Reading fans be wary of on Saturday?

We have at least six players in the first XI who are always in with a chance of creating or scoring a goal. Right back Cyrus Christie is taking the 'attacking full back' tag to new levels and effectively playing as a marauding winger. Hughes' playmaking ability we've already discussed. Craig Bryson excels at breaking from midfield beyond the centre forward, big Chris Martin, whose link-up play is exquisite at times. Martin is our main man and integral to our attacking style. From wide areas, Jamie Ward will buzz around and act as a general pain in the arse for opponents, Liverpool loanee Jordon Ibe (if fit) is a very direct winger who lives to take on defenders, while Johnny Russell is a handy option from the bench. Jeff Hendrick is out of the side at the moment, but is another midfielder who can get into the box and make something happen.

Anyone that Rams fans aren't looking forward to facing?

I expect Glenn Murray to cause our defence a problem or two. However, if Nigel Adkins goes with his preferred 4-4-2 formation, our midfield three will have a real opportunity to get a grip of this game. Blackburn tried that shape against us a few weeks ago and we pinged it around them. Danny Guthrie recently called for a change in tactics and the adoption of a midfield three - I hope that Adkins ignores him.

Finally, what's your score prediction?

I am backing a Derby win. Let's say 2-1 to the visitors.

Thanks again to Ollie and you can follow the chaps over at DCB @derbycountyblog