Strugglers Derby and Coventry need to restore some Pride
Derby County take on Coventry City in Friday night's live Championship match on Sky Sports 1 at Pride Park. Both sides are towards the wrong end of the Championship table as they both have had to contend with a multitude of injuries recently.
That is not the only similarity between the two teams recent fortunes as the Rams are without a win in four matches while their counterparts' winless run stretches to five matches. In addition they both lost to opponents below them in the table last weekend against Ipswich and Reading respectively.
Derby had the "honour" of being the first team to lose to Roy Keane's Tractor Boys in the league this term as they fell to a 1-0 defeat at Portman Road. Despite the loss Nigel Clough was encouraged by his team's display but the way things are going he looks unlikely to achieve anything near what dad Brian did at County.
Having said that Derby's home form has been far better than their record on the road therefore a home win looks a distinct possibility at 21/20. During the Rams' recent poor run they have only suffered one defeat at Pride Park - albeit it was an incredibly demoralising one as QPR turned a 2-0 deficit into a 4-2 win.
Derby could be boosted by the return of striker Rob Hulse for the visit of the Sky Blues. The frontman missed the defeat at Ipswich and he is key to Derby's chances of beating Coventry.
When the former Sheffield United man doesn't play Clough's side miss his presence up front as it is something the on-loan Paul Dickov cannot give them.
Hulse is Derby's joint top scorer this season with three goals to his name. In two of the last three matches in which he has played and Derby have scored, he has been on the scoresheet. Therefore he is the most likely source of goals for the home side and can be backed at 11/2 to open the scoring or alternatively 6/4 to score anytime.
The target man will hope to take advantage of Coventry's injury problems in defence. To help rectify their problems Chris Coleman has recruited Leon Barnett on loan from West Brom. However, despite the Baggies paying Luton £2.5 million for his services he has often failed to impress putting in clumsy performances.
Therefore he could add to the Sky Blues' defensive problems rather than help them through their injury problems. If he puts in the kind of performances that saw him have limited game time at the Hawthorns then Derby could well take advantage.
However, if Barnett does do the job that Coleman brought him in for then it would make the 21/10 about an away win look big, unfortunately I think it could be a big if.
At the other end of the pitch for City Leon Best has been in fine form this campaign notching six goals. The former Southampton forward has been struggling with injury though and is yet to return to full fitness. However, he could be in line for a recall to the starting XI against Derby and if he does he looks a solid bet at 2/1 to score.
Best is out of contract in the summer so he might just be dreaming of the opportunity to put in a good performance in front of the television cameras to show a wider audience of his talent.
I think though that Coventry will need too much from Best to make up for problems at the back and therefore Derby should be celebrating a win at last.