Derby County will be looking to bring their dismal run of form in the Championship to a halt this evening when they head to Deepdale to face Preston North End.
Having secured a much-needed victory over Luton Town earlier this month, the Rams would have been hoping to use this performance as a catalyst in their battle for survival.
However, three consecutive defeats in the second-tier has resulted in Derby falling to 21st in the standings.
Currently only four points clear of fellow strugglers Rotherham United, the Rams know that another poor display against Preston could allow Paul Warne's side to pounce.
With Teden Mengi set to miss the remainder of the 2020/21 campaign due to a hamstring injury, Derby manager Wayne Rooney could opt to select Lee Buchanan or Andre Wisdom at centre-back alongside Matt Clarke.
Top-scorer Colin Kazim-Richards may be recalled to the Rams' starting line-up after being used as a substitute in last Friday's clash with Blackburn Rovers.
Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of today's fixture, pundit David Prutton has admitted that things are looking very bleak for Derby in their quest to avoid relegation to League One and he expects them to suffer defeat at the hands of Preston.
The 39-year-old said: "That magical 50-point total generally accepted as the threshold for survival in the Championship is just a point away for Preston now and you would expect that it won't bee too long before they get there.
"Interim head coach Frankie McAvoy has picked up five points from is four games in charge since replacing Alex Neil during the March international break.
"Things are looking bleaker for Derby, however.
"A reasonably positive start to the year saw Wayne Rooney's men begin to distance themselves from the battle against the drop, but one win from the last 10 has left them just four points above Rotherham in the final spot in the bottom three, who have two games in hand.
"This could be another difficult evening for the Rams.
GIVEMESPORT's Joshua Cole says...
Derby's worrying blip in form will need to be addressed by Rooney immediately if he is to guide the club to safety between now and the end of the campaign.
Whereas Preston have also been relatively poor in recent months, the Rams' lack of potency in-front of goal may result in them struggling to break down their opponents tonight as they have only been able to find the back of the net on 31 occasions in the Championship this season.
Furthermore, when you consider that Derby have kept two clean-sheets in their last 10 league games, it wouldn't be at all surprising if their defence fails to deliver the goods once again at Deepdale.
However, if the Rams can pick up a positive result on their travels, there is no reason why they cannot used the confidence gained from this clash to put some much-needed daylight between them and the relegation zone in the coming weeks.News Now - Sport News