STREAM LIVE >> Stoke City vs Derby County Live Stream Championship 2021 Online Live Streaming Links Full HD

After starting December by collecting four points from fixtures against Queens Park Rangers and Middlesbrough, Michael O’Neill would have been satisfied with the trajectory of his Stoke side.

However, any momentum generated from that double-header has now been lost, and the Potters head into their meeting with Derby effectively starting from scratch.

Somewhere down the line, a near three-week break may benefit the legs, but being out of match practice may not stand Stoke in good stead ahead of winnable home games with Derby and Preston North End.

Before the unexpected interval, Stoke had kept five clean sheets during seven games, conceding just twice, but just six goals were scored during that run.

Stoke possess the third-best defensive record at home this season, although 15 goals in 11 outings at the bet365 Stadium is only the 11th-best.

Most matters regarding Derby these days revolve around when they will finally get new owners, something which needs to be in place as soon as possible if Wayne Rooney is going to retain his current squad and even add to it in January.

However, for the first time this season, the Rams have posted two wins in succession, backing up a 1-0 victory over Blackpool with a triumph by the same scoreline versus West Brom.

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Owing to coronavirus cases, those results came 16 days apart, but that is further testament to the job that Rooney continues to do at Pride Park.

While Derby had to ride their luck against the Baggies, the result was all that mattered, and they are now within 14 points adrift of safety.

Overturning that deficit is still a mammoth task even with half of the campaign remaining, although Rooney will feel that his team are performing to a level where they can continue to upset the odds over the coming weeks and months.

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