Preview: Cambridge United vs. Derby County – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday’s League One clash between Cambridge United and Derby County, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Aiming to seal their spot back in the Championship after a two-year absence, Derby County will make the trip to the Abbey Stadium to face Cambridge United on Saturday afternoon in League One.

The U’s are fighting relegation in the third tier after a poor run of form lately, whereas the Rams are hoping to escape the division into the Championship.

Match preview

Derby County manager Paul Warne reacts on January 23, 2024© Reuters

After back-to-back wins over the Easter weekend versus playoff hopefuls Barnsley and crisis-hit Wigan Athletic, Cambridge United have been clawed back into relegation trouble following a run of three matches without victory, losing at the home of Bristol Rovers on Tuesday night.

The U’s avoided a scare in the first half when former Derby man Chris Martin missed a penalty for the Gasmen, however the visitors were unable to hold on for any points at the Memorial Stadium in the end, with the 35-year-old eventually finding the net in the 87th minute.

The collection of just the single point in the last three League One matches has seen Garry Monk‘s side drop to 19th position in the third-tier standings, five points ahead of 21st-placed Cheltenham Town with only three matches left to play, meaning that Cambridge still have work to do in order to preserve their divisional status.

Back-to-back fixtures at the Abbey Stadium over the next week versus Derby and midtable dwellers Wycombe Wanderers must be targeted for maximum points, with the U’s having a decent record in front of their own supporters this campaign, collecting 30 of their 46 league points at their Cambridgeshire base.

Despite having the likes of Elias Kachunga and Lyle Taylor in their attacking ranks, Cambridge have struggled for a consistent goalscorer in League One this season, meaning that Ipswich Town loanee Gassan Ahadme leads the club’s striking charts with just 10 third-tier efforts.

After a frankly-unacceptable seventh-placed finish in the third tier of English football last season – meaning that they missed out on the playoffs by a single point – Derby have the opportunity to seal their return to the Championship for the first time since 2022 this weekend.

The Rams currently occupy the second automatic promotion spot in the League One table, possessing a three point buffer over third-placed Bolton Wanderers with only two matches left to play, meaning that Paul Warne‘s side will be promoted if they win at Cambridge – should both Wanderers and Peterborough United drop points.

Derby will be confident of carrying out their side of the promotion-clinching deal at the Abbey Stadium versus relegation-threatened Cambridge on Saturday afternoon, when the visitors will be looking to extend their unbeaten run in the division to five matches as the campaign reaches its dramatic conclusion.

Warne’s charges recorded one of their most-convincing victories of the calendar year last weekend at Pride Park versus Leyton Orient, who were hit for three without reply courtesy of a brace from centre-back Sonny Bradley and an own goal from the foot of Orient’s George Moncur.

Since relegation to League One in 2022, Derby have enjoyed a three-game unbeaten streak versus Saturday’s opponents Cambridge, however the U’s did manage to hold the Rams to a goalless draw during the reverse fixture in September, when both Joseph Wildsmith and Will Mannion kept clean sheets.

Cambridge United League One form:

Derby County League One form:

Team News

Despite conceding late on at Bristol Rovers last time out, Cambridge should stick with a back three of Danny Andrew, Zeno Ibsen Rossi and Mamadou Jobe for the visit of Derby.

On the other hand, Monk could opt to make some alterations to his forward line after firing a blank at the Memorial Stadium, with leading marksman Ahadme and Jack Lankester potentially being promoted from the bench.

After smashing Leyton Orient last weekend, Derby are set to named an unchanged team this time around, with Kane Wilson and Louie Sibley providing the service from the flanks.

Brace-scoring Bradley will continue at the heart of the Rams’ backline, partnered by the always-reliable duo of Curtis Nelson and Championship-linked Eiran Cashin.

Former Cardiff City trickster Nathaniel Mendez-Laing will retain his spot up top alongside James Collins, limiting Martyn Waghorn to a spot amongst the substitutes.

Cambridge United possible starting lineup:
Mannion; Jobe, Rossi, Andrew; Bennett, Digby, May, Brophy; Kaikai, Lankester, Ahadme

Derby County possible starting lineup:
Wildsmith; Nelson, Bradley, Cashin; Wilson, Smitb, Adams, Sibley, Thompson; Collins, Mendez-Laing

SM words green background

We say: Cambridge United 0-1 Derby County

Despite failing to win any of their last three away matches, we are expecting Derby to turn on the style here and record a potentially promotion-securing victory at the Abbey.

Cambridge’s form has stuttered in recent weeks, and the visit of the second-placed Rams to the Abbey Stadium is not an ideal opportunity to get back to winning ways.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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