Preview | Swansea City v Derby County
Swansea City will look to make the most of returning to the Liberty Stadium as they kick off a home double-header against Derby County this afternoon.
The Swans have not played in SA1 in three weeks, but head back home on the back of a hard-earned point against a Preston side boasting the best home record in the Championship.
By contrast, this weekend they face a Derby side who have picked up just eight points on their travels this season.
Steve Cooper’s side are unbeaten in five games in their own backyard and will doubtless view today’s clash – and Tuesday’s meeting with QPR – as a big opportunity in what the head coach himself has described as an important period ahead of the final run-in.
Derby, meanwhile, have been revived of late by the arrival of a certain Wayne Rooney, losing just one of the eight games they have played in all competitions since the former England, Manchester United and Everton forward made his debut for the Rams last month.
With the Swans keen to maintain their upturn in home form, and the visitors desperate to put an end to their away-day struggles, there will be plenty at stake.
The Swans are boosted by the return of Connor Roberts with the full-back having made a full recovery from the should injury he picked up at Stoke.
Mike van der Hoorn remains sidelined by a knee injury, while Jordon Garrick is to feature for the under-23s this weekend as he builds up his match fitness following a hamstring problem.
The Swans otherwise boast a clean bill of health.
Steve Cooper: “They’ve had some good results of late, they are a big club in the division with well-known players and an experienced manager.
“They are doing well, but we focus on ourselves. We are at home, and we have played well at home recently.
“We have not played there for a few weeks now, but we want to pick up where we left off against Wigan and take the game to them.”
Phillip Cocu (speaking to RamsTV): “There is a lot to play for. It’s an important game coming up, it’s a busy schedule in February.
“It’s a short month with a lot of games, but we are in a moment where we feel positive.
“We are facing difficult away games but the team spirit is at a very good level and we are looking forward to the games.
“We have shown a lot of improvement, but this is a great test for us.”
Remember the last time?
Wayne Routledge’s fifth goal of the season earned Swansea City a share of the spoils against play-off chasing Derby and made it 11 Championship games unbeaten at the Liberty.
The Rams had the better of the opening half and there could be few complaints about the half-time lead they deservedly held through captain Richard Keogh’s header.
But the hosts were greatly improved after the break and levelled as Routledge converted when Oli McBurnie’s header was palmed onto the woodwork.
Both sides had chances to claim a winner during a frantic final 20 minutes but it ended all-square.
The evening offered a tantalising glimpse of what could have been for the Swans, who had seen their own play-off hopes ended by Hull City’s late comeback the previous weekend.
Yet, even though the top six was no longer on the line, the hosts more than played their part in a full-blooded encounter.
7 – Swansea’s improvement in set-piece defending this season is shown by the fact the seven goals they have conceded from dead-ball situations is the lowest such tally in the Championship.
8 – Derby County have picked up just eight points on their travels this season, only Luton and Barnsley (six) have accumulated fewer away points.