In the second Championship play-off, Derby County welcome Hull City to the iPro Stadium in the race for Premier League promotion.
The Rams were one of the favourites for automatic promotion at the start of the season, but they had to settle for a fifth place finish – even though their early season form under former head coach Paul Clement gave the impression that they were capable of winning the league.
To the surprise of some, Clement was sacked in February due to a few poor displays – his replacement Darren Wassall steadied the ship and went five games unbeaten throughout April and May, meaning the Rams once again would finish in the play-offs as they look to return to the top-flight for the first time since the 2007/08 campaign.
A shrewd move was to appoint the knowledgeable Harry Redknapp in March as football adviser – an experienced head to help Derby’s push for the promotion.
As for Steve Bruce’s Hull – classed as early season favourites to bounce straight back up following their relegation last term – after managing to keep hold of their key players like Tom Huddlestone, Andrew Robertson and Abel Hernandez – their 5-1 thrashing of Rotherham in their final match of the season gave a glimpse of what they can produce, when at their best.
Armed with quality throughout the squad, the Tigers form throughout March and April where they went 10 games with a win, killed off any hopes of automatic promotion.
However, Bruce’s side have failed to surpass the Rams this term– losing both games earlier in the season, a 2-0 away defeat followed by a 4-0 thrashing at the iPro – a Bradley Johnson brace saw off the ten-man Tigers.
It is reported that £170m is said to be at stake for the team promoted to the Premier League, so it could be nerve-racking over the two legs for these two former Premier League outfits.
For the Rams, Craig Forsyth and James Hanson are long-term absentees.
George Thorne will be absent after suffering a double leg break in the 1-0 defeat to Ipswich Town last week
As for Hull, boss Steve Bruce has a full-strength squad to call upon.
League Position: Derby County – 5th (78pts); Hull City – 4th (83pts)
Form: Derby County – WWWDDL; Hull City – WWDWLW
Previous Meeting: Derby County 4-0 Hull City – April 5, 2016
Key Men: Derby County – Tom Ince; Hull City – Abel Hernandez
Shoot Says: Derby County 1-1 Hull City