Like Monday’s match against Huddersfield Town, this fixture has come around in double quick time, and despite only being Warren Joyce’s 9th game in charge of Latics, this will be the second time he finds himself on the touchline alongside Steve McClaren and his in-form Derby County side looking for their 6th consecutive victory at Pride Park Stadium.
Joyce described his disappointment after the reverse fixture at the DW, when only a Bradley Johnson header from a hopeful free-kick into the box, separated the sides. Joyce felt that Latics matched Derby stride for stride that day and were unfortunate not to come away with something from a close match.
Derby’s good run has continued throughout December and they go into this game as the division’s form side, with eight wins and a draw from their last nine matches. At home, the record is equally as formidable, with five consecutive wins and no goals conceded in 647 minutes, a run of seven matches and 17 minutes.
Add to this Latics current wretched run of five consecutive defeats and the Rams certainly go into the game as hot favourites. However, you never can predict football and Latics do have an excellent record at Pride Park Stadium.
Warren Joyce had TEN first team players unavailable at Rotherham. Four of those are long-term injuries – Bogdan, Gilbey, James and Daniels - but of the six players who missed out at The AESSEAL New York Stadium, Joyce will be hoping he may be able to call upon Shaun MacDonald or Luke Garbutt but Reece Burke, Nick Powell, Craig Morgan and David Perkins are still likely to miss out until next week at the earliest.
Shaun MacDonald – will he recover from a thigh strain in time for the game?
Latics' problematic right back area seems to be mirrored by Derby but on the other flank, where they currently have three left backs unavailable. Marcus Olsson limped off against Birmingham City with a hamstring problem, joining Craig Forsyth who is recovering from a serious knee injury suffered way back in August and Max Lowe who is out with a groin problem. Ikechi Anya is set to continue deputising in the left back role, as he did against Birmingham. Cyrus Christie is also likely to miss the game with a foot injury.
Marcus Olsson, likely to miss Latics match
SEASON SO FAR
It has certainly been half a season of two halves for Derby County. One of the favourites for promotion in August, manager Nigel Pearson took over a side who qualified for the play-offs last season and having kept the core of the side together, big things were expected. Pearson had the recent promotion credentials from his time at Leicester City but football – especially in the Championship – proved once again that you have to expect the unexpected and Derby, despite one of the most expensively assembled squads in the league, failed to get any kind of rhythm going.
With the team just above the relegation places, former manager Steve McClaren returned to the club in October and the upturn in form since has seen The Rams move into the upper reaches of the table.
McLaren has his and the club’s sights now firmly set on promotion back to the top flight for the first time in a decade.
The sides met for the first time in the old Third Division two seasons running between 1984 and 1986. Latics won at Springfield Park on both occasions, and came away from The Baseball Ground with a draw and a defeat.
Jean Beausejour and Callum McManaman celebrate at Derby on New Year’s Day 2014
Fast forward nearly 20 years and both clubs were now in the second tier, and in respective new stadia. In five league visits to Pride Park Stadium, or the iPro Stadium, staring in 2004, Latics are still yet to lose, registering three wins and two draws – they did lose an FA Cup match there in early 2005 but this is one of those stadia that have been good to Latics over the years.
In their last two trips there, a Jean Beausejour wonder strike won the points on New Year’s Day 2014, and later that year, James McClean’s double earned a 2-1 victory.
How Latics would dearly love to keep the good record going and finish 2016 on a high note.
PLAYED FOR BOTH CLUBS
Of the current squads, Jake Buxton and Michael Jacobs are both former Rams, Buxton a real fans’ favourite there after spending seven years at Pride Park Stadium.
Jake Buxton was a real favourite at Derby
For Derby, Scott Carson has been one of the real consistent performers since he left the DW Stadium in 2015 and rightly received a good welcome when he returned to the DW earlier this month with Derby. Derby announced an extension to his contract this week, which will keep him at Pride Park Stadium until 2019.
Scott Carson in action versus Latics in early December.