Rams seeking revenge for cup debacle

BILLY Davies may not have been appointed the new Derby County boss until the summer, but he doesn't need reminding of the Rams' last unfortunate visit to Layer Road.

By Carl Marston

BILLY Davies may not have been appointed the new Derby County boss until the summer, but he doesn't need reminding of the Rams' last unfortunate visit to Layer Road.

Davies was busy guiding his previous club Preston North End to the play-offs last term, while Derby were struggling against relegation and suffering badly in the FA Cup.

In fact, the Rams' 3-1 defeat at Layer Road, in the fourth round of the Cup on January 28, signalled the end of the road for manager Phil Brown.

One irate Derby supporter stayed behind after the final whistle, just to hurl some abuse at Brown while the Scotsman was being interviewed by the media. Terry Westley took temporary charge after Brown's departure, with former captain Jeff Kenna and Paul Peschisolido helping out with the coaching duties.

Davies is hoping to bring the glory days back to Derby - they were relegated from the Premier League in 2002, along with Ipswich and Leicester City, when John Gregory was at the helm.

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But the Derby boss knows that his side cannot afford to underestimate the challenge of Colchester United today.

“If we remain disciplined and focused, we have a side good enough to win the match,” explained Davies.

“But this will be another tough game and many of our players already know what it is like to lose at Colchester.

“They'll want to get it out of their system. It would be good to lay another ghost to rest after our first away league win (at Hull) since last November, and our progression through to the second round of the Carling Cup (at Stockport) for the first time in four years.

“We must be aware that Colchester will be hurting after a bad start to their season. A wounded animal is a dangerous animal, and we don't want to be bitten,” added Davies.

Steve Howard was the principal signing of the summer. The 6ft 2ins target man moved from Luton Town for £1m.

Howard has been effective against Colchester sides in the past, for his former clubs Hartlepool, Northampton and Luton. The 30-year-old was Luton's leading scorer last season with 15 goals, which elevated him to third place in the list of all-time goalscorers for the Hatters (102 league and cup goals in 228 appearances).

He has since formed a little-and-large partnership with Peschisolido at Pride Park, which makes them one of the most experienced strike-forces in the division.

Canadian international Peschisolido, who celebrated his 35th birthday last May, is in his second full season with the Rams. He has been playing in English football since 1992 when Birmingham City splashed out £25,000 for his services from Toronto Blizzards - a bargain buy.

Since then, he has generated nearly £3m in the transfer market with subsequent moves to Stoke, Birmingham (a second time), West Brom, Fulham and Sheffield United.

Peschisolido was substituted after 55 minutes of the last league match, which ended in a goal-less draw at Norwich City. His replacement, Arsenal loanee Arturo Lupoli, should also feature today.

Lupoli arrived at Arsenal from Italian side Parma as a 17 year old in 2004. Although he has only made one appearance in the Premier League, as a substitute against Blackburn, he has proved a prolific marksman in the reserves.

In fact, the Italian netted 18 goals in 16 appearances for Arsenal Reserves last season, playing alongside Nicklas Bendtner - the man who came off the bench to score the Birmingham City winner against Colchester on the opening day of the season.

It has been a solid if unspectacular start to the season. An opening day 2-2 home draw against Southampton was followed by a 2-0 defeat at Stoke and a 2-1 win at Hull.

After last weekend's goal-less stalemate at Carrow Road, Davies said: “Rome wasn't built in a day, but we are looking forward to a challenge. We have lots still to do.”

His cause is not helped by injuries. Centre-half Darren Moore was injured at Norwich and so he is added to a host of absentees that also includes Matt Oakley and Richard Jackson.

But keeper Stephen Bywater is poised for a recall after recovering from a recent groin problem, and defender Dean Leacock could also return after a tweaked hamstring.

Bywater is on loan from West Ham, with a view to a permanent move, while Leacock was snapped up for £375,000 from Fulham over the summer.

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