Derby v Birmingham preview

Derby boss Nigel Clough may rest Jeff Hendrick for Saturday

evening’s Championship clash with Birmingham at Pride Park.

The 20-year-old has started all but one of the Rams’ 17

Championship games but has struggled to reproduce the level of

performance he showed last season when he won the club’s Young

Player of the Year award.

“We either persevere with him or there is a chance he might come

out and have a little rest. At 20, we could possibly do more damage

leaving him in there,” said Clough. “He had a great first season

but he is struggling a bit this season. Second seasons are tough

for young players like Jeff because everyone knows a bit more about

you.”

Clough is set to revert back to 4-4-2 for Saturday evening’s

televised clash, having lined up 4-4-1-1 in the 3-0 defeat to

Crystal Palace last weekend.

If Hendrick drops out, Will Hughes and Craig Bryson would be the

likely partnership in central midfield with Paul Coutts on the

right and Michael Jacobs could keep his place on the left after a

lively display at Selhurst Park.

Clough had hoped Jamie Ward would be available after missing

nine matches with a hamstring injury but the forward is likely to

be overlooked unless he joins in training with the rest of the

squad before the end of the week.

Curtis Davies is back in contention to boost Birmingham after

missing the last two matches with a niggling ankle injury.

Promising winger Robert Hall, meanwhile, arrived on loan from

West Ham late on Thursday afternoon and goes straight into

contention for his Blues bow.

There is further positive news regarding on-loan right-back Paul

Caddis, who returned to full training on Friday having been

sidelined for two months with his shoulder injury. However,

Saturday’s game is expected to come too soon.

Left-back David Murphy underwent a knee operation on Thursday

night which rules him out for the foreseeable future, joining

fellow defender Stephen Carr (knee) on the sidelines.

Midfielder Keith Fahey is expected to remain unavailable having

been granted compassionate leave for an indefinite period.