GRIMSBY Town make the daunting trip to Derby County's Pride Park on Wednesday night hoping to replicate last year's League Cup first round success when they defeated another Championship side in Wigan Athletic.
Russell Slade will be expecting nothing less than 100% effort from all of his players after last Saturday's defeat to Darlington. Although it was Town's first league defeat in eight matches - a run that stretches back into last season - many of the fans were left unhappy not just with the result, but the performance too. However, the Mariners face one of the more difficult fixtures of the first round to respond positively, but as we've seen before, anything can happen in the Cup.
Derby currently sit third in the Championship table, undefeated so far this season. New manager Phil Brown (left) looks to have taken over from where former manager George Burley left off. After the disappointment of missing out in the playoff semi finals against Preston last campaign, Brown has regrouped his troops and look to be making a similar assault towards the top of the Championship. They have managed to keep together the majority of last year's squad, which is brimming with talent and experience. It seems odd that Town were competing in this league just three years ago.
Wherever you look there are players capable of winning any match. One of last season's key performers for the Rams was Spanish midfielder Inigo Idiakez (left) who moved to Pride Park last summer on a free transfer from Rayo Vallecano. He scored 11 goals in 45 starts and is Derby's most important set piece taker. He has also been booked in all four games so far this season. In defence Derby have the experience of Jeff Kenna, who spent the majority of his career with Southampton and Blackburn in the Premiership. Only last week former Leeds midfielder Seth Johnston returned to County on a free transfer, and recent recruit Tommy Smith will look to be amongst the goals after moving from Sunderland where he had an indifferent time. Journeyman Paul Peschisolido, who has played for no less than eight different clubs in England, features more as a sub these days but could be given a start against the Mariners.
Russell Slade will be without defenders Tony Crane and Tom Newey after they both saw red at the weekend. Crane will miss two games, whereas Newey will only miss the Derby game.
Michael Reddy was substituted early in the same match, but this could have been a precautionary measure.
Justin Whittle looks the likeliest candidate to fill in for Crane, whereas Slade may be tempted to replace Newey with Gary Croft at left back, leaving a space in midfield for JPK Kalala to make his long-awaited debut.
Ciaran Toner is again sidelined after breaking a finger in a car accident.
Simon Ramsden (strain) and Gary Croft (knee) are both slight doubts after taking knocks in Saturday's defeat by Darlington.
Luton may request that Calvin Andrew takes no part in the match to save him from being cup-tied.
Jeff Kenna picked up a hamstring injury in pre-season and has yet to appear for Derby so far. He is joined in the injury room by defender Paul Boertien, one of the few remaining squad survivors from the last clash between the two sides.
Morten Bisgaard was taken off on the hour mark against Cardiff, but like Slade with Reddy, this was just to avoid any further injury. Otherwise Phil Brown has nearly a full squad to choose from.
Derby hold the advantage over Grimsby in the 66 matches contested between the two sides. The Rams have won 32 of them, with the Mariners managing just 19, with 15 draws completing the statistic. There have been some entertaining games - one ending 5-4 in favour of Derby and another ending 5-3 in favour of Grimsby. Of course, the last meeting came at the end of 2002 when Town triumphed 3-1 at Pride Park, with John Oster grabbing two goals and David Soames scoring his first (and only) for the club. Derby and Grimsby have never met in a Cup competition before, so this is new territory. Derby have a bad record in the Carling Cup - they haven't won a game in the competition since September 2002 when they came out 3-1 victors at Mansfield.
Derby's good start to the season will give them great confidence going into this match - especially as they have won their last two. They have a relatively small side for the division they are in, so that won't give manager Phil Brown any great options to rotate the squad or rest certain players. Town will have to do remarkably well to produce a win here. 3-0 to Derby.
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