At a time when some clubs will say that the international break came at the wrong moment, Slavisa Jokanovic knows that the two-week interval was pivotal in changing Sheffield United’s fortunes for the better.
Seven points and 11 goals have come from fixtures against Peterborough United, Preston North End and Hull City, kick-starting the Blades’ campaign after an abysmal start.
The introductions of Iliman Ndiaye and Wolverhampton Wanderers loanee Morgan Gibbs-White have made all the difference, the midfield duo chipping in with four goals and three assists between them.
Jokanovic will be less than satisfied with the defensive effort of his team with five strikes being conceded during the same triple-header.
Nevertheless, Sheffield United are back among the mix in mid-table, the best scenario that they could have hoped for after failing to win any of their first five fixtures.
Staying on the subject of best-case scenarios and simply surviving as a football club will be what Derby supporters are craving at the present time.
The inevitable move into administration has left the Rams nine points adrift of safety and with the prospect of further sanctions to follow in the future.
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Last weekend’s 2-1 win over Stoke City was a show of defiance from Wayne Rooney’s squad, but the reality is that this squad are playing on borrowed time ahead of the necessary sales and departures in January.
Max Bird finally netted his first Derby goal during that fixture, and Rooney will hope for more of the same as Derby look to move off minus points at Bramall Lane.
Saturday’s game is a repeat of last month’s EFL Cup second round tie, which the home side won by a 2-1 scoreline