Nottingham Forest vs Derby County Preview: Reds looking to dent Rams' promotion challenge in latest East Midlands Derby

Nottingham Forest will be looking to continue their recent good run of form in the Championship as they take on fierce rivals Derby County at The City Ground on Sunday afternoon.

Nottingham Forest will be looking to continue their recent good run of form in the Championship as they take on fierce rivals Derby County at The City Ground on Sunday afternoon. 

The Reds claimed a very credible point following a 0-0 draw with Norwich City at Carrow Road in midweek and were perhaps unlucky not to nick all three. They will be desperate to dent Derby's promotion challenge with three points in this match.

As for Derby, they come into this game in poor form and were recently denied victory late on by Queens Park Rangers in a 1-1 draw at Loftus Road

How they've fared so far

It has been another season of transition for Forest as they began the season under new ownership and under the management of Mark Warburton. However, it did not work out for the former Brentford and Rangers manager and he was dismissed shortly after the Christmas period following demoralising defeats to strugglers Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland

Since then, Aitor Karanka has been appointed as the club's new manager in the hope that he can be the man to finally lead the club back to the Premier League. The former Middlesbrough boss did not have the best of starts on Trentside but he is now starting to get his ideas across and results have improved. 

The Reds come into this fixture unbeaten in their last five outings, picking up draws against Burton Albion, Reading and Norwich City and wins against Queens Park Rangers and Birmingham City. This upturn in form has seen their relegation fears all but diminished as they currently sit 14 points clear of the drop zone which is also down to the poor form of teams below them.

A key factor behind Forest's recent improvement is down to Karanka's signings on Deadline Day. He was very ruthless in his approach as many players left the club as well as arrived. The additions of Costel Pantilimon, Tobias FigueiredoJack Colback, Ben Watson, Lee Tomlin and Joe Lolley have all been very important and they have all featured regularly in the first team in recent weeks. 

This means that the Rams will be facing a very different side to the one they faced back in December and Forest are only likely to improve further as the new additions continue to gel. 

As for Derby, it has been a very difficult couple of months for everyone involved. It looked as though the Rams could attempt to push for automatic promotion around the New Year period but since then their form has really dropped and they now look set for a fight to remain in the play-off places. 

The Rams have only won one of their last nine Championship matches. This is an alarming run of form for a team that has aspirations to achieve promotion to the Premier League come next May. A key reason behind their recent struggles is the amount of goals they have been conceding in comparison to how many they conceded in the first-half of the season. 

This will be a concern for Gary Rowett but he will hope that his squad have the quality and character to turn their recent poor run of form around. Over recent years, form heading into this fixture has not proved to be a key factor in the result which will be a motivating factor for the Rams. 

Last time they met

Forest last played Derby in the Championship in a 2-0 defeat at Pride Park in December. Matej Vydra gave the Rams the lead after just 24 seconds before David Nugent added a second after the break. It was a disappointing result for Forest as their poor run of results against the Rams continued. 

Team news 

Forest could be without Tomlin for Sunday afternoon's match as he recently missed the draw with Norwich City due to fatigue and a calf problem. Karanka remains hopeful that the forward could yet be fit enough to play a part but as it stands he remains a significant doubt. 

As for Derby, Rowett will be unable to name the likes of Joe Ledley, George Thorne and Sam Winnall as they continue to recover from their injuries whilst Chris Baird is still suspended. Tom Huddlestone, David Nugent and Cameron Jerome are also all doubts for this match.