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Opposition Lowdown: Paul Warne’s Derby County

Reading return to the SCL Stadium this Tuesday evening, as they take on Derby County. Join us as we take a closer look at the opposition.

Oxford United v Derby County - Sky Bet League One Photo by Cameron Howard/Getty Images

Form

Derby County finished last season in seventh place in League One, missing out on the playoffs by one point, as they lost their final game of the season to Sheffield Wednesday.

They have put that disappointment behind them and had a strong season so far, sitting third in the league, two points behind second-placed Peterborough United. Their recent form has been strong, having won three, drawn one and lost one of their last five games and they come into this game off the back of a 0-0 draw away to Lincoln City.

This is the first time the two sides have met this season as the original game was postponed back in November due to international callups. The last league fixtures between the sides occurred in the 2021/22 season, when Derby beat Reading 1-0 at Pride Park before playing out a 2-2 draw at the SCL Stadium, with Junior Hoilett scoring twice for the Royals.

The boss

Paul Warne: Warne took over as Derby manager in September 2022, succeeding former Royal Liam Rosenior, who was in charge of the Rams for three months.

Warne had a 15-year career as a player, playing as a midfielder, representing the likes of Wigan Athletic, Rotherham United, Oldham and Yeovil. He ended his playing career at Rotherham and took up a coaching position with the Millers, before becoming caretaker manager in November 2016.

Following a successful caretaker spell, Warne was named full-time manager the following January. He spent almost six years in charge at Rotherham and has won three promotions from League One in 2018, 2020 and 2022, returning at the first attempt every time they were relegated from the Championship.

He swapped Rotherham for Derby in September 2022, guiding the Rams to a seventh-placed finish in his first season in charge and currently has a 50% win percentage.

The 50-year-old generally adopts a 3-5-2 formation and has his sides playing a robust, aggressive style of football, favouring a high press.

Squad

Derby signed winger Corey Blackett-Taylor on loan from Charlton Athletic on Monday and he could make his Rams debut this evening. They will however be without defender Craig Forsyth, midfielder Korey Smith and strikers Martyn Waghorn and Conor Washington who are all out through injury. Defender Ryan Nyambe will also play no part as he is currently representing Namibia in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Expected lineup

Vickers, Wilson, Nelson, Cashin, Elder, Bird, Hourihane, Barkhuizen, Mendez-Laing, John-Jules, Collins

Key player

Nathaniel Mendez-Laing: Winger Mendez-Laing joined the club in July 2022, following his release from Sheffield Wednesday. He started his youth career at Wolverhampton Wanderers, but only made one appearance for the club.

He went on to gain first-team football on loan at Peterborough United and Sheffield United, before then signing for Peterborough in 2012. While permanently at the Posh, he spent loan spells at Portsmouth, Shrewsbury Town and Cambridge United.

Permanent moves to Rochdale and Cardiff City followed where Mendez-Laing scored 20 goals and 14 goals respectively, including four in the Premier League. Spells at Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday followed before he joined Derby in 2022.

The 31-year-old has gone on to make 82 appearances for the Rams, scoring 15 goals. He can play on either wing or up front and has strong crossing and dribbling skills.

One to watch

Eiran Cashin: Defender Cashin is a product of the Derby academy and has been with the club since he was eight years old. He signed his first pro deal with the club in 2020 and made his debut in December 2021.

Cashin became a first-team regular last season, making 52 appearances, scoring one goal. The 22-year-old has only missed one game for the Rams so far this season, due to a yellow card suspension.

He has represented the Republic of Ireland at under-18 and under-21 level. He has been attracting interest from a number of sides up the ladder but his contract at Derby was recently extended.

Cashin is a ball-playing centre back with strong tackling and passing skills.