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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Derby are in the doldrums and Preston can add to misery

Rams' collapse a familiar sight

Preston North End's Paul Gallagher
1 of 1

Sky Bet Championship
Sky Sports Football, 12.45pm Monday

Derby's traditional end-of-season collapse is taking place earlier than usual this term and their campaign could take another turn for the worse at Deepdale.

The good news for the fifth-placed Rams is they remain in the playoff hunt, but any chance of automatic promotion from the Sky Bet Championship has disappeared following a run of one win in 11 games.

Only three of those have ended in defeat but Friday's horrendous 4-1 home loss to Sunderland was a sure sign that the pressure is getting to Gary Rowett's side.

They were lucky to ship only four as every section of the team failed and it's asking a lot of Rowett to quickly lift morale and get the side functioning again even though Tom Huddlestone's return to their midfield should help.

County have conceded at least twice in five of their last seven outings and if confidence is as low as it looked at Pride Park they will be in for another difficult 90 minutes against Preston.

North End fluffed their lines at Sheffield Wednesday, also losing 4-1, but they had won three of four before that defeat and it was only 2-1 at Hillsborough until the game got away from Preston in the closing stages.

Alex Neil's side don't possess the same squad depth as Derby, so that could be a negative, yet Preston have shown themselves to be a solid team for much of the season and can put the squeeze on many of their playoff rivals with a win in the lunchtime kick-off.

1pt 11-8 Betfred

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Team news
Alex Neil will pick from the squad who suffered a defeat at Sheffield Wednesday on Friday. Greg Cunningham is pushing for a start after returning as a sub in that game.

Tom Huddlestone is back from a ban but this match could come too early for Marcus Olsson and Sam Winnall.

Key stat
Derby have lost only one of their last nine games against Preston.

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Derby have lost only one of their last nine games against Preston
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