Derby County will be looking to continue their impressive run of form when they welcome Hull City to Pride Park in the Championship on Saturday afternoon.
The Rams are unbeaten in their last five matches in all competitions, but they are still down in 17th position in the Championship table, six spots behind their opponents this weekend.
There is no getting away from the fact that it has been a tough season to date for Derby, but it does appear that the team are moving in the right direction in the early stages of 2020.
Since losing 3-0 at Reading on December 21, Derby are unbeaten in five matches in all competitions, including wins against Charlton Athletic and Barnsley in the Championship. Phillip Cocu’s side also progressed to the fourth round of the FA Cup courtesy of a 1-0 victory at Crystal Palace.
Wayne Rooney’s presence has had a lot to do with the team’s improvement, and the former England captain again played the full 90 minutes against Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium last weekend.
It did appear that the Rams were heading for a 2-1 loss to Jonathan Woodgate’s side, but Duane Holmes snatched a point at the death.
Derby are still down in 17th position in the table, though, some eight points off the playoffs, meaning that they would have to put together some run of form in order to become a part of the top-six argument.
Hull City’s Jarrod Bowen in action on January 1, 2020© Reuters
Cocu’s side will feel that they have one of the most influential players in the Championship in the shape of Rooney, but Hull will also feel the same about Jarrod Bowen.
The attacker has scored 16 times in 27 Championship appearances this season, and the Tigers will do well to keep hold of him beyond the end of the January transfer window due to the interest in his services.
Like Derby, the Tigers have progressed to the next round of the FA Cup courtesy of a 3-2 success over Rotherham United, but they lost 1-0 at home to Fulham in the Championship last weekend.
Grant McCann’s side have enjoyed a solid campaign to date, though, and currently sit 11th in the table, just three points off the playoffs heading into what should be a fascinating clash at Pride Park on Saturday.