Derby vs Salford | Tuesday 10th August 2021, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Derby take on Salford in the EFL Cup on Tuesday night, and the Sky Sports cameras will be there to see the mess that the Rams have gotten themselves into.
County currently have a squad of just 18 players, three of which are goalkeepers. To make matters worse, Krystrian Bielik, Jason Knight, Lee Buchanan are all injure,d whilst Jack Stretton won’t be fit enough to start, leaving Wayne Rooney only 13 outfield players. The Derby boss has also said that some of his players weren’t fit enough to feature on Saturday, but he had no choice but to play them.
On the bench at the weekend, Rooney had 17-year-old Dylan Williams, 19-year-old Festy Ebosele who has played four times for the first-team, 19-year-old Liam Thompson who has never played for the first-team and 19-year-old Eiran Cashin, again having never played a first-team game. There isn’t anyone else who could come into the squad apart from Ravel Morrison, who Rooney has confirmed will play.
There is plenty of experience in the team with Richard Stearman and Curtis Davies, the duo have a combined age of 69 playing at centre back. Davies was injured for the majority of last season and before the 90 minutes on Saturday hadn’t played more than 45 minutes since December 2020. He will probably need to play another full 90 minutes here.
Rooney has the almost impossible task in trying to keep the Rams in the Championship and I am not sure how bothered he and the club will be about progression in the EFL Cup. There is a real possibility we might see more youngsters in the starting XI come Tuesday night.
Under Rooney the Rams have a record of W8-D5-L16, keeping clean sheets in just seven games, although it is now two shutouts in their last 16.
At the weekend they played Huddersfield, who the bookies have as joint-third favourites for relegation and despite the game ending 1-1, the Rams were outplayed. The Terriers managed 17 shots, six on-target, 13 efforts in the box with an Expected Goals (xG) output of 1.68.
Yet despite all the doom and gloom they do have a small group of decent players. I would expect Max Bird, Tom Lawrence, Colin Kazim Richards, Craig Forsyth and Louie Sibley to all start.
Salford have big expectations of not just promotion to League One but to continue their push up the leagues and have been well backed by their joint owners. On paper their squad is exceptional for League Two with players like Ian Henderson, Conor McAueny and Matty Lund, but a high turnover of players and managers mean the team is never settled.
At 36, Henderson could well drop to the bench meaning that McAueny may start down the middle or Tom Elliot could start
This is just the type of game that manager Gary Bowyer and the Project 92 owners will love. A game on Sky against a team like Derby in full-crisis mode, managed by England record scorer Wayne Rooney. Whilst promotion is the only aim of the season for Salford, Bowyer will be keen to make his mark early on.
Salford have a reputation for sacking managers very quickly if things don’t go well and despite a decent point and performance at home in the opening game, he knows he is under pressure. Bowyer picked up 20 points from his 11 games in charge last season but defeats to Colchester and draws with relegated Grimsby and Tranmere, meant they have finished two points outside the play-offs, so needs a decent start.
Recently Salford games have been low-scoring with just three of the last 20 games seeing three or more goals and just two of Bowyer's 12 games in charge. Despite the money being thrown at the project they managed just 1.17 goals per-game last season with a xG of 1.4, and despite conceding just 0.74 goals they ended the season with a xGA of 1.15.
I think Bowyer will feel he needs a good performance and will start a strong team knowing there is a great chance to claim a cup upset. I can’t see many goals, and given the record of Salford I think Under 2.5 looks a decent play at 21/20 with Red Zone.
My only concern with this bet is if Rooney does decide to play the kids – Salford could easily score a few goals and to counter this I am happy to take Salford to score Over 1.5 Goals at 39/20.
Derby vs Salford – Under 2.5 Goals (21/20 Red Zone)
Derby vs Salford – Salford to score Over 1.5 Goals (39/20 Unibet)