Derby County manager Phillip Cocu must be tempted to start Duane Holmes and Scott Malone at Brentford.
The Rams head into their clash with the Bees coming off the back of a 3-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest. The Carabao Cup loss to the Reds will have provided Cocu with some answers.
Goals from Alberto Adomah, Joe Lolley and Joao Carvalho did the damage. Derby made ten changes for the trip to the City Ground, and it showed as the side lacked cohesion.
Cocu will be hoping his side can put things right against Brentford. However, fitness issues with some of his players leaves the Dutchman with a couple of big decisions to make.
Does Scott Malone return to the fold?
Lee Buchanan, 18, played well against West Bromwich Albion last weekend. Against Forest, however, his inexperience showed from a defensive point of view and he was caught out.
Cocu told reporters in his Brentford pre-match press conference that Malone is struggling with fitness. It’s a gamble, but his experience could be key against a free-flowing Bees side.
Malone has come in for criticism from supporters this season for some under-par performances. But, with Max Lowe filling in for Jayden Bogle on the right, he represents Derby’s best current option at left-back.
Should Duane Holmes start?
Holmes is without doubt Derby’s most creative midfielder. He brings speed, agility on the ball and a drive from midfield. The Rams have lacked all three aspects this season.
In Derby’s last six games in all competitions, they have only managed three goals from open play. Jack Marriott and Martyn Waghorn are goal scorers, but they have been starved of quality chances.
Holmes is Derby’s answer to their creativity problem. However, the former Scunthorpe United man only made his first start of the season at Forest, playing at right-back. He will still be short of fitness.
Derby need a positive result against Brentford in order to put the Forest defeat behind them. The trip to Brentford is arguably Cocu’s most important game in his early tenure, and he has big decisions to make.