Derby 2007/08 preview
Derby have an uphill battle on their hands if they are to retain their Premier League status this season.
By James Pearson
Last Updated: 08/08/07 4:04pm
Newly-promoted Derby County have an uphill battle on their hands if they are to retain their Premier League status this season.
Billy Davies and co fully deserved elevation back into England's top-flight following last term's gutsy play-off final success over West Brom.
However, The Rams, who have spent the past five seasons outside the Premier League, are being heavily tipped for a swift Championship return.
2005/06 play-off final winners Watford finished bottom last term and despite some astute signings, Davies' troops will surely struggle this time around.
Strengthening his back line has been a priority for the Scottish tactician with the likes of Claude Davis, Andy Todd and Tyrone Mears all joining the Pride Park outfit this summer.
How Giles Barnes adapts to Premier League football will be paramount for Derby as the talented midfielder will often be relied upon to provide a creative spark.
The bad news for The Rams is that the youngster is still recovering from the broken foot suffered against The Baggies and is unlikely to return to action until mid-September.
Although keeper Lee Camp has left for QPR, Derby have brought in Ipswich Town's promising shot-stopper Lewis Price.
Stephen Bywater should remain the club's first-choice keeper, although Price, who has over 50 league starts to his name, will provide ample cover.
Burly striker Steve Howard is likely to lead the line and following the acquisition of fleet-footed striker Rob Earnshaw, the pair could be a little and large success.
Earnshaw has Premier League experience having spent nearly two seasons with West Brom before joining Norwich in search of first-team football.
If Derby are to avoid the drop their home form will be key. Back in the 2001/02 season they lost more home games than any other side - which inevitably led to relegation.
The Rams lost just four times on home soil last time around and if they can make Pride Park a fortress and scrap for points on the road then salvation may not just be a desert oasis.