Derby County's dismal run of form in the Championship continued last night as they suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Preston North End.
Despite having 66% possession during the fixture, the Rams were unable to breakdown the Lilywhites who sealed all three points at Deepdale thanks to goals from Ben Whiteman, Ched Evans and Ryan Ledson.
As a result of this latest setback, Derby missed out on the chance to extend their advantage over fellow strugglers Rotherham United who could move to within a point of Wayne Rooney's side today if they beat Middlesbrough.
Sheffield Wednesday's triumph over Blackburn Rovers has allowed them close the gap to the Rams who will need to deliver a response this weekend when they host Birmingham City at Pride Park.
Making reference to his side's current situation in the Championship, Rooney has admitted that Derby must now rely on favours from elsewhere in their battle to avoid relegation to the third-tier.
Speaking to the Derby Telegraph about the precarious position that the Rams find themselves in, the 35-year-old said: "We have to be realistic where we are at.
"Do I believe we can win the last three games?
"Yes, but we have to rely on Rotherham losing games.
"It is out of our hands.
"We have to focus on Saturday, a huge game for us against Birmingham.
"All of our attention will go to that game, and we will be watching with one eye closed on the Rotherham game to see what the outcome of that is."
GIVEMESPORT's Joshua Cole says...
After initially making a positive start to life as permanent boss of Derby by winning five of his opening seven games in charge of the club, Rooney has hit a stumbling block in recent months.
Having lost four games on the bounce, the Rams are clearly devoid of confidence and thus may find it difficult to secure a positive result this weekend against a Birmingham side who are experiencing somewhat of a renaissance under the guidance of Lee Bowyer.
As well possessing the worst goal-scoring record in the Championship, Derby's defensive woes have resulted in them failing to keep a clean-sheet in seven of their last eight fixtures.
If the Rams cannot solve these issues during the closing weeks of the season, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see Rotherham and Wednesday leap-frog them in the table and thus consign the club to relegation to League One.News Now - Sport News