Both Sheffield Wednesday and Derby County will be hoping to register back-to-back wins for the first time this season as the Owls welcome the Rams to Hillsborough Stadium on New Year’s Day in a relegation six-pointer.
Only three points and two places separate these two sides in the table, with Wednesday currently occupying the final relegation place.
Wednesday are currently on a three-game unbeaten run, with their victory on Tuesday night meaning they leapfrogged Rotherham United into 22nd place in the EFL Championship – the highest they have placed all season.
A win for the Owls could see them move out of the bottom three and above their opponents into 20th.
Three points for County could see them climb above Queens Park Rangers into 19th with a game in hand.
The Rams are currently four games unbeaten against Wednesday and have only tasted defeat twice in 24 meetings.
Sheffield Wednesday still have a number of players out with long-term injuries, including Dominic Iorfa, Aden Flint, Derby loanee Jack Marriott and Cameron Dawson.
It has been confirmed that combative midfielder Massimo Luongo will be out until early 2021 with a knee injury.
Julian Börner has also missed the last five games with a facial injury.
Joost van Aken and Adam Reach both missed Wednesday’s victory on Tuesday night with knocks sustained in the Boxing Day draw with Blackburn Rovers and will both be assessed ahead of the meeting.
Derby are said to have no fresh injury concerns going into the New Year’s Day trip to Hillsborough.
Martyn Waghorn will serve the second of a three-game ban after his early dismissal against Preston North End.
Curtis Davies will be out long term after suffering an Achilles injury earlier this month.
Tom Lawrence nears a return after missing the last three games with an ankle problem.
Sheffield Wednesday (3-5-2):
Westwood; Lees, Dunkley, Palmer; Odubajo, Shaw, Pelupessy, Bannan, Harris; Windass, Paterson.
Derby County (4-3-3):
Marshall; Byrne, Wisdom, Clarke, Forsyth; Knight, Bielik, Shinnie; Sibley, Kazim-Richards, Jozwiak.
After losing four successive fixtures, the Owls have collected seven points out of a possible nine.
Tony Pulis picked up his solitary victory in a 1-0 win over Coventry City before drawing 1-1 with Blackburn at Ewood Park on Boxing Day, however, he was sacked just two days later after just ten games in charge.
Derby have won just three games out of their last 17 matches this season, with two of those coming in their last three games.
The Rams killed the game off inside 25 minutes, racing into a three-goal lead thanks to strikes from Krystian Bielik, Graeme Shinnie and Colin Kazim-Richards, with Jason Knight rounding off a great afternoon with a fourth on 77 minutes.
Like Wednesday, the Rams are without a permanent boss, however, Wayne Rooney has impressed in his time as the Rams' interim manager, leading them to three victories and four draws in eight games and keeping five clean sheets.
Ones to watch
The boyhood Owl has been a rare positive in a horrific season for Sheffield Wednesday.
Liam Shaw has broken into the first team from the academy, proving to be a mainstay in midfield, helping to win the ball back and transition his side forward.
On Tuesday night, Shaw shone as he was utilised further forward by Thompson, netting his first professional goal for Wednesday.
Shaw makes 0.4 tackles and 0.5 interceptions per game and maintains a 73.8% pass succession rate in his eight Championship appearances this season.
Kazim-Richards is beginning to settle to life back in England at Pride Park.
The Turkish forward has scored two of his three strikes this season in his last three games, and the goal-scoring onus will be on him to help Derby stride away from the bottom three.
The former Sheffield United forward takes 1.1 shots per game and makes an average of 0.6 key passes per game.
Last time they met
Derby County were victorious the last time these two met at Hillsborough at the end of February 2020.
The Rams went 3-0 up inside the first half-hour in S6, with Lawrence bagging a brace before Knight’s strike added a third.
The Owls netted a mere consolation in the 76th minute as Josh Windass headed home from Jacob Murphy’s cross.
Former County forward Chris Martin registered a hat-trick of assists on the day.
What the managers have said
Caretaker manager Thompson says that he was “proud and pleased” to manage the Owls to a victory against Boro, adding that he is taking each game one match at a time.
Speaking after the win on Tuesday, Thompson said: “I spoke to the chairman last night and he asked me to prepare the team for tonight, which I was proud and pleased to do.
"So that’s what I focused on and now that focus moves to preparations for the Derby game on Friday.
“I’ve been here a long time, it’s a fabulous football club, and I want nothing but the best for everyone connected to Sheffield Wednesday.
“It’s been a tough year with the pandemic and fans not being able to see their team and hopefully they can return in 2021.”
Interim boss Rooney has stated that he believes in his side to now kick on and climb the table.
“We have just come out of the bottom three, but I have full confidence and belief in this team that we will keep climbing the table," said Rooney, speaking to Rams TV.
“Obviously with January coming up it is important that we do our business right to iron out some small cracks that we need to take that next step forward.
“All the games coming up are important for us right now if we want to keep climbing up the table and put ourselves in a better position to finish in the highest place we can.
“Friday will be a tough game. As we stand here now, they are without a manager and there is always a reaction when you lose a manager.
“We will prepare for that; we’ll be ready, and I am confident we can get a positive result.”
Where to watch
The match will be shown live on Sky Sports on Friday 1 January, meaning that there will be no standard ‘iFollow’ coverage.