ANDY BUCKLEY-TAYLOR’S DERBY COUNTY BLOG: Season 2013/14 preview

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This weekend sees the start of another Football League season. The 125th Anniversary of the league’s formation is being celebrated and Derby County find themselves hosting fellow founder members Blackburn Rovers.

The game has been switched to Sunday due to the demands of live TV and provides Nigel Clough’s Rams with a stern opening test.

There has been a few incomings at Pride Park during the summer. Lee Grant, John Eustace, Craig Forsyth, Chris Martin and Johnny Russell have become full-time members of the playing staff, while John Brayford has exited for Cardiff and a new challenge in the Premier League.

The deal is worth around £2m to the club and the chief executive has promised that the money is there for Clough to use for further additions to the squad. Adam Smith has been signed on a season loan from Spurs and is highly rated, so maybe he can fill the gap left by Brayford in competition with Keiron Freeman.

The team is definitely stronger than last season and more options are now available up front. However, looking through the list of players, a genuine left winger is still missing from the names. Jamie Ward can play there with great effect, but do you want your top scorer playing wide? For me he is best used up front.

Chris Martin and Johnny Russell are expected to start as strikers, however, Conor Sammon will no doubt be eager to prove his worth given the chance. He was on the end of some unfair criticism last season despite being held in high regard by all members of the team.

His nine goals scored is far from sensational, but it could have been doubled quite easily. A more settled and confident Sammon should surpass that number with ease. Not blessed with great skills, he does nevertheless hassle defences and create problems.

Johnny Russell has had a great pre-season, but that counts for nothing once the referee starts next Sunday’s game. The sooner he opens his account the better it will be for his confidence leading into a tough looking opening few games.

The important thing next Sunday will be not to lose. The squad is talented enough to be in the play-off mix at the end of the season, however there’s about 12 teams that can say that!