Derby County host Sheffield Wednesday this weekend in a relegation showdown.
The Rams are three points clear of Wednesday but with an inferior goal difference.
An Owls victory will relegate Derby, but anything other than a win for Darren Moore’s side will see the Yorkshire club drop into the third tier for the second time in the past decade.
Rotherham United, meanwhile, are two points behind Derby. The Millers would relegate both if they beat Cardiff City away and the Rams fail to pick up all three points.
For fun, we conjure up what a Derby and Owls combined XI would look like:
The combined XI is from current available players. Krystian Bielik and Dominic Iorfa would 100% get in, and their absences have been hugely felt by both clubs this season.
Keiren Westwood gets the nod in goal ahead of David Marshall, Kelle Roos, Cameron Dawson and Joe Wildsmith. He is both experienced and consistent.
The Owls have struggled in the fullback positions all season. They started the campaign without a regular left-back, while Iorfa’s injury was a blow on the opposite flank.
Wednesday have deployed a wingback system under Darren Moore. As we have gone with a 4-4-2, Derby duo Lee Buchanan and Nathan Byrne take up the fullback positions.
Owls defender Tom Lees has been one of the side’s better performers, while Derby’s Matt Clarke has certainly been the Rams’ best central defender this season.
Adam Reach has divided opinion at Hillsborough. However, with five goals and three assists, he is statistically the most productive wide player either side have had this season.
Kamil Jozwiak gets in on the other side. In terms of ability, he is among Derby’s best players, but the Polish winger has unfairly had to carry a huge weight on his shoulders.
Barry Bannan is an obvious selection. The 31-year-old has more assists than Derby’s entire midfield selection combined, while also posting a higher average number of key passes.
Where Derby have lacked a creative source in the centre of midfield, Wednesday have lacked the sort of pressing and defensive shield which Graeme Shinnie provides.
The Scotland international averages a solid 2.1 tackles per game.
Derby’s problems this season has been a lack of goals. Martyn Waghorn and Tom Lawrence have struggled, while Lee Gregory’s absence has coincided with a six-game losing run.
Colin Kazim-Richards has surprised many with eight goals. But Owls duo Josh Windass and Jordan Rhodes have fared better, posting a combined 14 goals and six assists.
Max Bird, Jason Knight, Louie Sibley, Osaze Urhoghide and Liam Shaw all have big potential, but the struggles from both clubs have impacted their ability to progress.
It’s ultimately been a torrid season for Derby and Wednesday, and with so many out of contract this summer, a summer rebuild at both clubs must take place.
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