Derby County vs Brentford Preview: Rams look to hold automatic promotion spot against the Bees

Derby host mid-table opposition as they look to strengthen their position in the top two of the Championship.

Derby County vs Brentford Preview: Rams look to hold automatic promotion spot against the Bees
The Rams were held at Millwall in midweek. (Photo: Getty Images / James Chance)

Derby County face Brentford in the Championship on Saturday afternoon as the hosts look to continue their promotion charge by holding down second place with Aston Villa breathing down their neck.

The Bees lie in mid-table but could move as high as seventh should they win by a large enough margin to displace Sheffield United.

Derby gunning for a return to the top-flight

With Wolves 11 points ahead of second placed Derby in the Championship, it seems as if the title could already be under wraps leaving one automatic promotion spot up for grabs.

The Rams are in pole position for that prize as thing stand but things are tight at the top with just three points separating them from fifth placed Bristol City.

Despite going unbeaten in the league for 10 games wins have begun to dry up for Gary Rowett's men, who have drawn three of their last four games with two of those against promotion rivals Bristol City and Sheffield United.

Two goalless draws on the bounce heading into this Saturday's game leaves Derby requiring Championship joint-top scorer Matěj Vydra to add to his 15 league goals if they are to stay ahead of third placed Aston Villa.

Rowett told the club's official website of the "pressure on every game now because of where we are", adding that his side "want to try to step on the gas at home now". 

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Brentford not yet out of the promotion race

With just five points separating the Bees from sixth placed Fulham it is safe to say they aren't quite out of the promotion race just yet.

Three wins in their last five league games has seen Brentford come within distance of the play-off places, although they slipped up with a home defeat to Norwich City last weekend.

The Rams' Emirates FA Cup exit at the hands of League Two Notts County highlighted that there are still inconsistencies to be ironed out if Brentford are to mount a serious challenge for promotion in the second half of the season, but a win at Pride Park tomorrow would be a big statement.

Joint-top scorer Lasse Vibe is expected to leave the club for China in the coming weeks with the Chinese transfer window not closing until February 28, so the question will be whether Ollie Watkins can shoulder the goalscoring burden in his absence.

Defender Yoann Barbet told Get West London this week that his side have "17 finals" ahead of them until the end of the season, adding "it'd be good to go and win at Derby and stay in the play-off race."

Team news

Deadline day loan signing Kasey Palmer is available for selection for Derby on Saturday, while in terms of injuries Bradley Johnson is unlikely to play a part despite returning to training this week after overcoming a back injury.

Vibe will not be involved in the squad due to his impending transfer to China while full-back Rico Henry is out with a knee injury.

Predicted line-ups

Derby County (4-2-3-1): Carson; Forsyth, Davies, Keogh, Wisdom; Thorne, Huddlestone; Lawrence, Vydra, Weimann; Nugent.

Brentford (4-2-3-1): Bentley; Barbet, Bjelland, Mepham, Yennaris; Woods, Mokotjo; Watkins, McEachran, Jozefzoon; Maupay.