Derby County have overcome a slight wobble in recent weeks to record back-to-back wins and jump into the automatic promotion spots for the first time this season.
Derby County leaped from 4th to 2nd in the League Two table following a 1-0 victory away from home over Charlton Athletic on Saturday, with results around them going in the Rams’ favour to help them into the top two.
Despite failing to sign a much-needed striker during the January transfer window, Paul Warne’s men will have been boosted by the additions of Corey Blackett-Taylor and Ebou Adams. It will be hoped that their arrivals can help the Rams push to retain their spot in the top two come May.
Blackett-Taylor was signed from League One rivals Charlton Athletic on an initial loan, whereas Adams made the move from Cardiff City on loan until the end of the season.
But how does Derby County’s winter business impact their starting XI? Here, we take a look at the strongest lineup Rams boss Warne can field…
Derby County’s strongest starting XI
In goal, despite Josh Vickers getting the nod over Joe Wildsmith in recent weeks, the general consensus amongst Rams fans is that the latter should not have been dropped in the first place. Vickers has not done too much wrong, but Wildsmith’s performances were seemingly stronger before he took up a spot on the bench.
The centre-back pairing picks itself. Eiran Cashin and Curtis Nelson have been fantastic at the back for Derby County this season and worked together brilliantly, alongside Sonny Bradley, to gain another clean sheet at the weekend.
Ryan Nyambe’s return from AFCON duties for Namibia will be a huge boost for Warn. He will be expected to slot straight back into that right-back spot whereas Callum Elder is the strongest left-back candidate.
Adams and Max Bird provide the perfect balance in midfield. The Cardiff City loanee displayed his dirty work capabilities against Charlton, simultaneously allowing Bird the freedom to venture further forward and allow his creative side to shine through.
Blackett-Taylor and Kane Wilson provide the flair on either flank, with Nathaniel Mendez-Laing able to drop in behind James Collins up top for the Rams in what has been a tried and tested partnership this campaign.