Derby County host rivals Nottingham Forest on Friday night and one player who will be keen to make an impression is former Rams right-back Cyrus Christie.
The 28-year-old joined Derby in 2014-15 from Coventry City.
Christie became a mainstay in Derby’s first-team but missed out on promotion to the Premier League following near misses in 2014-15 and 2015-16.
The Republic of Ireland international had plenty of ability. However, he often became a scapegoat due to defensive lapses and he was later sold in in the summer of 2017.
Fast forward a few years and a £4m move to Premier League side Fulham, and Christie is back in the east Midlands on loan at Derby’s dearest rivals Forest.
Both clubs have underachieved this season as they sit in the bottom third.
But since the turn of the year, Forest and Derby are among the form teams in the Championship and both can now realistically set their sights on finishing in the top half.
Derby have won six of their last eight Championship matches.
Forest, meanwhile, head into the derby having lost just two of their past 14 games with Christie statistically the Reds’ best player this season with a 6.9 rating (Whoscored).
The former Derby right-back averages 1.7 tackles and 1.7 interceptions per game. Going forward, Christie posts an average of one key pass and a 72.7% pass success rate.
Most Derby supporters have been delighted with Nathan Byrne this season. Arriving as Jayden Bogle’s replacement, the former Wigan Athletic man has been a steal.
But Christie’s 6.9 rating is better than Byrne’s 6.82 rating. Both fullbacks have two assists, but Christie ironically boasts the better defensive stats compared to the Derby man.
Both players play key roles in how their respective teams set up, and whoever has the better game on Friday could prove to be decisive come the final result.