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Derby hotshot Vydra can shoot down Robins

Sky Bet Championship
Sky Sports Football, 7.45pm Friday


Barring a miracle it seems certain that Wolves will win the Sky Bet Championship and the most exciting race will be to see who automatically joins the leaders in next season's Premier League.

Two teams with ambitions of reaching the top flight meet at Pride Park in a crunch clash and second-placed Derby can outline their promotion credentials against fifth-placed Bristol City.

Central to Derby's run has been the excellent form of Matej Vydra, their record signing who is now producing the kind of performances which persuaded the Rams to spend the best part of £10m on the Czech Republic forward.

Vydra is joint-top in the Championship Golden Boot race with Leon Clarke on 15 goals and is proving difficult to mark as he makes elusive runs from the number ten position.

The penalty-taking former Watford man was on target in last week's 3-0 win over Birmingham which maintained County's grip on second place.

Gary Rowett's men have won eight and drawn two of their last 11 league games, keeping eight clean sheets in the process with Richard Keogh forming an experienced centre-back pairing alongside Curtis Davies.

Tom Huddlestone runs the show in midfield but they have the attacking flair to combine with their defensive prowess.

Vydra is the most likely scorer, although the visitors will know the threats come from a variety of sources. Tom Lawrence and Johnny Russell were on the flanks at Birmingham with Sam Winnall leading the line, while Cameron Jerome has been brought in this week too.

However, Vydra is vital to the way Derby play and he could prosper against opponents who have lost five consecutive matches and face a massive League Cup semi-final second leg against Manchester City at Ashton Gate on Tuesday.

City played their youngsters at Watford in the FA Cup so that 3-0 defeat is pretty irrelevant and they performed with great credit despite losing their League Cup first-leg trip to Manchester 2-1.

Lee Johnson's men though were beaten by ten-man Wolves before losing 5-0 at Aston Villa and last week the Robins were beaten 1-0 by Norwich with the manager saying afterwards he felt the hectic schedule had caught up with the Bristol boys.

A clear week will have helped in that regard but there is still the distraction of the City return to come which may continue to impact on performances in the short term.

Bobby Reid remains a threat for the Robins but there is a theory Johnson's men are lacking a physical presence in the final third due to injury problems and to that extent the recovery of Famara Diedhiou cannot come soon enough.

Recommendation
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Match in Focus

20:00 TODAY SKY

C Palace v Liverpool

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Both teams have scored in 11 of the last 12 meetings.
Expert verdict
Liverpool served notice of their quality with a comfortable opening win over West Ham but Crystal Palace should put up stiffer resistance. Both teams played on the front foot in their respective opening victories and it would be no surprise if this Selhurst Park clash was full of goals