Derby County manager Paul Clement is to resist the urge to make changes for the FA Cup fourth-round clash with Manchester United on Friday (29 January 2016), despite his side suffering a recent blip in their bid to secure Premier League football for the first time since 2008. Having previously cemented their place in the automatic promotion spots, the Rams' expensively assembled squad have begun to wobble since the festive period with no wins in any of their last five championship outings.
A 2-2 draw at Leeds on 29 December was followed by a disappointing defeat to rivals Middlesbrough, while a dismal performance against Reading led to the cancellation of their planned warm-weather break in Dubai. Things have only got worse since then, however, with consecutive heavy defeats to Birmingham and Burnley leaving them fifth and six points adrift of the top two.
Such a wretched run of form would no doubt have conjured uncomfortable memories of the last two seasons, when similar declines saw them fritter away their chances of promotion. However, Clement insists that he should have a full compliment of players available for the visit of a United team that are in a similar state of disarray as uncertainty continues to prevail over the future of Louis van Gaal following last week's insipid defeat by Southampton.
"We will go for the game and go for a positive result," he was quoted by the club at a press conference. "We will be at full strength when we play Manchester United on Friday night. We don't need any extra motivation.
"It's a big game, and the difficulty I have got is I need to tell some they won't be able to play. Manchester United have got the quality to turn their situation at any moment. We are going to have be at our absolute best. We have to continue in our way, stick to our beliefs, build our confidence and I'm confident things will turn for us. Manchester United are a team based on possession, they are solid and tactically they are organised and very strong.
"Louis is a different manager who has had a lot of different experiences. He's managed some of the best clubs in world football."
Derby remain without the services of Will Hughes as the highly rated midfielder continues to cover from a anterior cruciate-ligament injury sustained on the opening day of the season, and fellow long-term absentee Craig Forsyth also remains absent with a serious knee problem. New signing Marcus Olsson is not cup-tied and could make his debut just three days after arriving at the iPro Stadium from second-tier rivals Blackburn Rovers.