Teams: Derby County, Burton Albion
MATCH PREVIEW: NEWCASTLE v DERBY
Posted on: Fri 21 Dec 2007
Jay McEveley has said that it's time for the Rams to "step up to the plate" in Sunday's game at Newcastle United.
It's hard to disagree with that sentiment. The Christmas period can make or break a team's season with so many games in a short space of time, and from a Derby perspective the season needs to be made.
But it won't be straightforward against Newcastle, the only team to be beaten by Derby so far in 2007/08.
Sam Allardyce, after a difficult few weeks, appears to have steadied the ship somewhat in the last fortnight or so.
A battling draw against Arsenal was followed by late wins at home to Birmingham and away to Fulham, lifting what was beginning to become a depressing mood on Tyneside.
Neither side will fancy Christmas lunch on the back of a defeat.
Derby still have concerns over Andy Griffin (calf), Stephen Pearson (thigh) and Robert Earnshaw (groin) going into the weekend's clash.
Andy Todd (back) remains on the sidelines, while Marc Edworthy has resumed training after a calf problem.
England striker Michael Owen misses out for Newcastle with a thigh injury, as does Damien Duff as he continues to recover from foot trouble.
Steven Taylor should be clear of a slight hamstring niggle, but Abdoulaye Faye and Shola Ameobi should still be absent.
Geordie striker Steve Howard, a lifelong Newcastle fan, is set to play at St James' Park for the first time in his professional career.
If he clears his calf problems, Andy Griffin could feature against the side he played more than 100 games for during a six-year spell.
Craig Fagan still needs one more appearance to bring up 150 in his Football League/Premier League career.
Derby haven't won at Newcastle since January 2 1989 when Mark Wright rose highest to head home the only goal of the game for Arthur Cox's side.
The Rams' last top-flight spell saw them beaten five times and pick up one draw at St James' Park in six years.
Andre Marriner blows the whistle at St James' Park for the first time this season - and his second Derby match.
The West Midlands official has taken charge of 16 games this season and issued 46 yellow cards, along with two reds.
One of those came at Pride Park in November when he dismissed Chelsea's Michael Essien late in the visitors' 2-0 success.
Originally Posted by Nico
I dont belive in jinxing mate, I do belive in playing at home with a 2-0 advantage against a team which I cant see scoring 2 goals!
Of course, if we lose, I'll never admit it was me who wrote this.
Forest 2-5 Yeovil aet
Brian Clough - Legend!