FA CUP REPLAY: James Heneghan's Derby County v Northampton Town preview

Fixture: Derby County v Northampton Town, FA Cup fourth round replay

Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 10:16 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 10:29 am
Scott Pollock holds off Wayne Rooney

Date/time: Tuesday, February 4, 7.45pm kick-off

Venue: Pride Park

Forecast: 6C, cloudy

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Outs and doubts: Derby: Tom Huddlestone, George Evans. Cobblers: Alan McCormack, James Olayinka, Michael Harriman, Jordan Turnbull, Harry Smith, Shaun McWilliams, Callum Morton, Lloyd Jones, Mark Marshall

Betting: Derby 2/5, draw 18/5, Northampton 7/1

Form guide: Rams WLDWDW, Cobblers WWDDWWW

Current league positions: 13th (Championship) v 5th (League Two)

Possible line-ups: Derby (4-2-3-1): Roos; Wisdom, Davies, Forsyth, Malone; Rooney, Bird; Knight, Sibley, Martin; Marriott. Northampton (3-5-2): Cornell; Goode, Wharton, Martin; Watson, Lines, Anderson, Hoskins, Adams; Williams, Oliver.

Man in the middle: David Webb

Last time out: Derby County 4 (Waghorn, Martin, Rooney, Bogle) Stoke City 0; Macclesfield Town 0 Northampton Town 1 (Morton)

Most recent meeting: Friday, January 24, 2020 - Northampton Town 0 Derby County 0

Record v Derby: P11 W0 D5 L6

James Heneghan's preview: The tantalising prospect of playing host to the might of Manchester United is on the line this evening when Cobblers and Derby go to battle again 11 days on from their goalless draw at the PTS.

Town were the better team in that tame and yet intriguing clash in front of the BT Sport cameras but a very different game is expected on the pristine Pride Park playing surface tonight, particularly given Derby's strength at home this season.

With 32 points from 16 games, the Rams boast the second-best home record in the entire Championship, behind only Preston North End (33), so if the original tie at the PTS was a daunting task for Town, tonight takes it to a whole new level.

But there are other factors that should give Cobblers hope of a famous upset. Their form remains excellent - they haven't lost in 2020 - and they can also play without pressure and expectation this evening, with some eyes already trained on the possibility of Wayne Rooney v Manchester United in the next round.

There's also the superb support Town will receive at Pride Park to consider with over 4,500 away fans expected to make the short trip up the M1, a truly magnificent effort for a League Two club.

Manager Keith Curle will be forced into changes this evening with his four new signings all ineligible. That means Paul Anderson and Andy Williams are likely to return to the starting line-up while Scott Wharton is free from suspension again, a timely boost for Curle.

In the intervening 11 days between these two games, Cobblers' promotion bid gathered pace with successive victories and successive clean sheets while Derby's resurgence briefly stalled at Luton Town, beaten 3-2 by the Championship's bottom club, before kicking back into gear with a 4-0 win over in-form Stoke City.

Rooney scored a fine free-kick during that victory (video above) and he should be bang up for it this evening with a meeting against former club Man United awaiting in round five.

Cobblers, though, will hope to play the role of party poopers.

Prediction: Derby County 2 Northampton Town 1