U’s to lock horns with full-strength Rams

DERBY County boss Nigel Clough looks set to give all four of his summer recruits an extended run-out at Colchester United, in tonight’s pre-season friendly (kick-off 7.30pm).

This is the second of the U’s three high-profile home friendlies, following a 2-1 defeat to Premier League new boys West Ham.

East Anglian neighbours Ipswich Town will be at the Weston Homes Community Stadium next Wednesday evening.

Clough has been busy in the transfer market this summer, following the loss of inspirational defender Jason Shackell, who was sold to Burnley for �1.1m.

Centre-half Richard Keogh, recruited from Coventry City for a fee in excess of �1m, should start against the U’s tonight, as should fellow new signings Michael Jacobs (from Northampton) and Paul Coutts (from Preston).

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Clough’s fourth summer purchase, James O’Connor, who was signed from Doncaster Rovers on Wednesday, is also likely to feature, especially if left-back Gareth Roberts fails a fitness test.

In fact, the only absentees from the Derby senior squad will be defender Shaun Barker, who has already been ruled out for the whole of the coming season due to a serious knee injury, and also the unsettled Steve Davies.

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Striker Davies has been a target of Ipswich this summer. The two clubs are currently trying to agree on a fee.

So far in pre-season, the Rams senior side have lost 1-0 at Mansfield, but beaten Burton Albion and Northampton Town.

It promises to be a good test for the U’s, whose own summer signings Freddie Sears, Clinton Morrison and Marcus Bean will be keen to impress against Championship opposition.

Manager John Ward looks poised to field his strongest possible side, although midfielder Andy Bond could miss out after twisting his knee during last Saturday’s 2-1 win at Brentwood.

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