Both sides picked up vital victories against sides in the bottom half of the table in midweek making this game even more important.
A win for Wayne Rooney's side will put them above their rivals with a game in hand.
Derby will be without key man Krystian Bielik after manager Rooney confirmed the Polish international had surgery on his torn ACL.
He will be joined on the sideline by defender Curtis Davies who will also miss the remainder of the season due to an achillies problem.
Winger Tom Lawrence is close to returning to first-team action, but Friday's game comes too soon for the 27-year-old.
Sammy Ameobi misses out with a knee injury, while striker Lewis Grabban is nursing a hamstring injury.
The Reds remain without midfield duo Samba Sow and Harry Arter with injuries preventing them from being involved at Pride Park.
Derby County (3-4-3):
Marshall; Wisdom, Clarke, Edmundson, Byrne, Bird, Shinnie, Buchanan, Jozwiak, Knight, Kazim-Richards.
Nottingham Forest (4-2-3-1):
Samba; Christie, Figueiredo, Worrall, Bong, Garner, Yates, Lolley, Krovinovic, Knockaert, Taylor.
Ones to watch
After joining from Lech Poznan in the summer, the 22-year-old has enjoyed a positive start to life in the East Midlands. The Pole has scored once and assisted twice in his 22 appearances this season. He could have had a second goal, but his strike against the Reds earlier back in the season was controversially ruled out. His pace and technical ability could cause Forest full-back, Gaetan Bong, a lot of problems and could be key to a Rams victory.
After joining on a free from Charlton Athletic in the summer, the striker has had a decent start to life in Nottingham. The 30-year-old has scored four goals in 28 appearances with one of them coming against the Rams earlier in the season. Taylor has started half of the Reds league games this season but is the leading goalscorer with five goals in all competitions. His all-round centre forward play is what makes him so lethal. The Monserrat international has excellent hold up ability and rarely misses a one-on-one opportunity which is something Rooney's side needs to be aware of.
The teams last met at the City Ground back in October with the sides playing out a 1-1 draw. Forest have had the upper hand in the derbies as of late. The Tricky Trees remain undefeated against the Rams since a 2-0 defeat all the way back in October 2017. However, in the last meeting at Pride Park, Derby had the last laugh as Chris Martin scored a 97th-minute equaliser to deny Forest all three points.
Last time out...
How to watch
Due to the current national lockdown, no fans will be in attendance at Pride Park. This means the game is available on iFollow through Derby and Forest's respective club websites, with passes being priced at £10.
The game is also live on Sky Sports Football.
The game kicks off at 19:45 GMT on Friday 26 February 2021.