Chris previews Tuesday’s trip to Derby
Chris Powell wants his Town team to show its best side when it travels to Derby County in Sky Bet Championship action on Tuesday night.
Town certainly did that on Saturday to comprehensively beat Nottingham Forest on home soil, but Powell knows they will have to match that performance to get a result at the iPRO Stadium in midweek.
“You don’t have too long to bask in it; we’ve got another game at Derby,” Powell said of this weekend’s win. “Saturday was a great feeling, but we’re not going to get carried away with it; it’s just one game out of 46.
“That performance is now the standard bearer in looking at where we can possibly go and what we can possibly do – and I knew looking at the group, over time, that it had something like Saturday’s performance in it. I’d like to see that a little bit more, like I’m sure many of our fans would as well.
“The Sky Bet Championship changes quickly and as a Manager you can’t get carried away with good runs. The fans can and rightly so, because they dream about their team winning championships and winning cups!
“We’re here it to do the best we can. We will just carry on with our jobs, carry on doing our best to win football matches and see where it takes us.
“We’ve now played a third of the season and everything is equal; five wins, five draws and five losses. If we mirror that over the next two thirds, we’ll have 60 points and be in the middle of the table.
“You always have to strive to get better and I will look for us, in our next 15 games, to try and beat the points total that we’ve had so far. There’s a long way to go, but steady improvement is what we’re looking for. We don’t want to peak too early; we just want to carry on trying to do what we’ve been doing.
“We will get some very stringent tests along the way, which we certainly will against Derby County.”
Although the Rams come into Tuesday night’s game on the back of successive League defeats, that doesn’t mask the strength the promotion hopefuls boast all over the pitch:
“I always want to set challenges to the group and Tuesday will be another test for them.
“We’re taking on a side that are fancied and maybe a number of points ahead, a bit like Forest, but I would say this is the hardest test so far. We’re playing against a very good side that I watched away last week at Fulham and we’re going to have to dig deep on all our energy and resolve to come away with something.
“Either side of that Cup game against Fulham they’ve lost at home to Wigan and away to Brentford so it will be a tough game as they’ll be looking to bounce back. We’ll aim to do our own stuff and put them under a bit of pressure.”
During his playing days, Powell was coached by his opposite number Steve McClaren as a player at Derby:
“I went there in what is now called the Championship and we got promoted in second place, and Steve (McClaren) was very good. You could see he was always trying to be better; he was innovative with coaching sessions and we were among the first clubs to have Prozone.
“We moved into Pride Park as it was then and it was a very exciting time. I became a good friend of Steve not only as one of his players, but since he’s gone into coaching. I saw him last Tuesday as I was leaving Craven Cottage and said ‘I’ll see you next week’ so it will be good to pit myself against someone who has being quite an influence on coaching for me.
“I played there for a number of years, so I know what the crowd are like. If you get the crowd on side it can be a tough place to play, but equally it can be quite tough for the home side. We’re going to need to really be strong, be organised, play the football that we have being doing and try and put them under pressure and make them defend on their own patch.”
Unfortunately Powell seems unlikely to be able to call upon the services of midfielder Jonathan Hogg, who pulled out of Saturday’s game due to a thigh issue flagged up during the pre-match warm-up.
Chris continued: “It’s a shame really because ‘Hoggy’ has been excellent in whatever role we’ve given him, but he felt his thigh on Friday. We checked, double checked and triple checked and he said he was fine – but in the warm up on Saturday he just felt it again, so sadly we had to pull him out.
“I very much in doubt that he’ll be ready for Derby and it will be touch and go whether he’ll be right for Fulham.
“He’s a big miss for us, but that allows someone else to step in and we’ll have to wait and see exactly what team I play with what personal.”
Town fans can pay on the evening at Derby – click HERE for full info. As of 5pm on Monday, 590 Town fans have bought tickets for the game.