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Three To Watch: Derby (A)

Who are the dangermen that Reading need to keep quiet?

Derby County v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Curtis Davies

The central defender is a new signing at Derby having completed a move from Hull in the summer. Since joining the Rams for a modest fee, Davies has become a key player for manager Gary Rowett having appeared in all of Derby’s Championship fixtures this season.

During Hull’s time in the Premier League last season, Davies was one of the standout players in what turned out to be a dreadful campaign, before an injury sadly cut short his season.

In terms of his playing style, Davies is exactly the kind of experienced centre half that Rowett values in his solid defence. This can be seen in his fantastic reading of the game, demonstrated by his 2.6 interceptions per match - the most of any Derby player, and the sixth highest in the league.

However, the former Birmingham isn't afraid to clear his lines when required. He has the most clearances of anyone in the Derby defence (7.9). To put that into perspective that’s some way ahead of Liam Moore (5.8).

Additionally, Davies has been part of a Derby defence that has only conceded three goals in six Championship games at Pride Park. It is also worth noting that the Rams have kept two clean sheets in their last two home matches.

As a result, whoever Jaap Stam decides to play up front could find themselves up against it once the game is underway.

Tom Lawrence

Tom Lawrence should be a familiar face for Reading fans, having scored twice against the Royals when his former side Ipswich drew 2-2 against Reading back in February.

Playing primary as an attacking midfielder, but also on either flank, Lawerence is another new signing at Derby having completed a permanent switch from Leicester in the summer.

Lawrence was in fine form last season having scored 11 goals in 37 games in all competitions. He also managed to get a further 11 assists.

He may not put too many crosses into the box (1.3), but he can still be a dangerous creator and can cause many problems for any defence. So far this season Lawrence has made a respectable 1.6 ‘key passes’ and 2.2 dribbles per game - both the highest in the Derby squad. This suggests he likes to run at defenders before playing in a teammate, so Reading’s backline will need to be alert to this.

Matej Vydra

Matej Vydra will be another familiar face for Reading fans, having spent the 2015/16 season on loan at the Royals and scored nine times in 36 Championship appearances during his time at RG2.

Vydra has looked back to his best this season though with six goals in 11 league games, which is fairly impressive considering that the 25 year-old has managed to average 1.9 shots per game. That highlights just how ruthless his finishing is - if Reading allow him to get a shot away, he’ll likely score.

He demonstrated his confidence a few weeks ago by scoring the opening goal inside 24 seconds against arch rivals Nottingham Forest in front of the Sky cameras, which helped his team to a 2-0 win.

Additionally, according to Whoscored.com Vydra has contributed to 45% of the 11 goals that Derby have scored at home this season. That’s clearly the most of anyone in the Derby squad, and further demonstrates his importance for Gary Rowett’s side

Secondly Vydra is a proven goalscorer at his level, having netted 50 times in 158 Championship appearances. That’s particularly good considering that he has struggled to find his form in the past two seasons.

It is therefore evident that Vydra is a brilliant striker at this level, due to his fantastic goal-scoring record in the Championship. As a result, all efforts from the Reading defence should be made at containing this talented striker from being able to cause problems and scoring against his former club once again.