It seems some of you can’t wait to talk about the game on Monday and fair play, it’s now coming into my focus too, so I don’t blame you.
I was contemplating going to the game, but the next I knew, it had already sold out.
If I was at home, I’ve no doubt I’d have sourced a ticket from somewhere, but given that I’m not, I’ll have to resort to watching it on the telly with a beer in my hand and a quick fag break, albeit outside the digs, whenever I fancy it.
Combine this with my poor eyesight, where I’d hardly be able to see what was going on anyway and I wonder why I ever bother going to games at all.
Except for that atmosphere, that you can only get at a football game.
That’s where I get jealous.
A quick look at squad news and we’re all good, with only Nyland unavailable and that’s no great loss. There was a doubt about Axel Tuanzebe, but he’s okay.
As for Derby, left back Scott Malone is suspended, so Cashley Cole comes in.
Duane Holmes was a starter in County’s last three league games but has been struggling with a thigh problem, while Craig Bryson and David Nugent are definitely out.
Not that I’m bothered much by team news.
We all know it’s a one-off game and it’s a bit of a lottery, where it all depends on which team is better on a particular day. It’s a disgraceful way to decide promotion to my mind (worth up to £200 million, depending on what source you read), but that’s how it is and we have to live with it.
So what to think then?
On our part, it’s the usual pleasant problems for Dean Smith, in that he has to decide who starts, with the main issues being Whelan or Hourihane in the middle and Adomah or Green on the right.
I’d suggest Hourihane is a cert, with Whelan replacing him quite late on, if we’re in a good position.
Right wing is a tougher choice, as Adomah hasn’t impressed much lately, but is way more experienced and would probably be my choice to start.
Kodjia could also start there too, but Smith seems to prefer to introduce him late on and that’s wise in my opinion, given that he can replace any weakness on the left, right or up top. I know he’s Marmite amongst us fans, but I think he’s a very useful asset.
On paper, whichever way you look at it, we should win this game.
We’re at nigh on full strength, with a better squad and probably better subs to call on.
Cole playing at left back leaves me thinking that a bit of pace on our part down the right should leave him short, but our crossing isn’t the best, is it?
But the game isn’t played on paper and the way Derby went at Leeds in the second half of the return leg scared me. That was a performance that would have beaten any Championship side at the time.
Even though I much prefer to face Derby than Leeds, they worry me, as if we aren’t at it and they are, they’re easily capable of beating us in a one-off game.
And it’s a big but, if we’re on our game I feel we can win this one.
I’ve been extremely confident overall for a good few weeks now, although that confidence did wain when I thought results didn’t matter so much and my predictions haven’t been far off the mark.
But I’m happy to say it’s now fully returned for this one.
I see goals in what ought to be a very open game, with both sides going for it.
Fortunately, I suspect Derby will go for it more, which will leave them open.
We have a better defence than Leeds and will not be caught out so easily.
And if we are, we have the fire-power to get the goals back.
But, what proved to be Leeds’ letdown was their failure to take their chances.
We simply have to be clinical.
While I see goals, I don’t see that many.
2-1 to the Villa