PREVIEW: Luton Town v Derby County
Town host the Rams in the Championship on Saturday
Derby County's attempts in becoming a force to be reckoned with in the Championship this season continued with the addition of Polish international winger Kamil Jozwiak in the week.
The 22-year-old winger was snapped up from Lech Poznan for an undisclosed fee, signing a four year contract and could potentially make his debut in this weekend's clash at Kenilworth Road.
On the new arrival, boss Philip Cocu said: “He is an exciting player with a huge amount of potential.
“Kamil is 22, so he has his best years ahead of him and he will be an important player for us.
“Kamil is someone we have closely watched over a long period of time and as a full international for Poland, we believe we are making an excellent addition to our squad.”
Jozwiak joins Wigan duo Nathan Byrne and David Marshall in moving to Pride Park during the summer, while the club's player of the season, Matthew Clarke, is also back on a season-long loan from Brighton & Hove Albion.
Cocu did see duo Max Lowe and Jayden Bogle both depart for the Premier League, heading to Sheffield United, but the club are now looking for the new additions to improve on their 10th-place finish last term.
That the Rams didn't end any higher was ultimately down to a poor record on the road.
At home, County were one of the toughest sides to face in the division, losing just four out of 23 matches, with 12 wins.
Away from their own stadium, it was a completely different story though, Derby losing 12 times, and going six months without a win at one stage, until a run of four victories in their final six bolstered the numbers.
Cocu wants his side to continue in that vein of form from the off this time around, saying: “In the second part of last season we improved a lot in getting the results in the away games.
“We have to continue on that path and don’t think about how we did it in the first part of last season.
“We must continue to approach the games in the same way we did after Christmas.
"We know there are a lot of tough games we have to play, but we are also capable of getting good results.”
Off the field, Derby are now being forced to 'vigorously resist' the English Football League's appeal against a decision to clear them of spending breaches.
The Rams had been charged in January 2020 for recording losses in excess of the permitted amounts for the three-year period ending June 30, 2018
Last month, an independent disciplinary tribunal said the Championship club did not break regulations over its valuation of Pride Park, clearing them of any possible points deductions.
But the EFL is challenging the dismissal of a second charge over how the Rams measured the value of players.
A Rams statement said: “The club is surprised and disappointed to hear the EFL has decided to appeal.
"The club believes that pursuing a case based on conflicting opinions about accounting policies which, even if the EFL succeeded, would have only led to the club re-submitting its P&S calculations, is a further waste of the EFL's resources and an unnecessary distraction to the club."
On the pitch, Derby have had a tough start in their opening few games, requiring penalties to see off League Two newboys Barrow in the Carabao Cup first round.
They then fell to a 2-0 defeat at Pride Park on Saturday, beaten by Reading, before going out of the cup with another home reverse, 2-1 to Preston, although this came after being reduced to 10 men.
With Luton having won all three games so far, then midfielder Max Bird is readying himself for a battle at Kenilworth Road, saying: “We expect a fight.
“We have been told by the coaches, we have done a little bit of shape and stuff. They are a good footballing team as well.
“First and foremost it is up to us to fight in the game, earn the right to play and hopefully the rest will take care of itself.
“It is important now for us to get the win.”
Team news: Luton are still without Dan Potts for the clash as his foot injury is taking longer than hoped to heal, but Tom Lockyer is fit after going off with cramp late on at Reading on Tuesday night.
Both Eunan O'Kane and Brendan Galloway are missing though.
For Derby, Mike te Wierik suspended after his red card against Preston, while striker Martyn Waghorn is still out injured.
Top scorers: Hatters: James Collins (4). Rams: Jason Knight (1).
Man in the middle: Dean Whitestone, hugely experienced official now in his 18th season, taking just one game so far, Fulham's win at Ipswich in the Carabao Cup Wednesday night.
Had 30 matches last term, showing 86 yellows and three reds, as he refereed Luton three times, the 2-1 defeat at Birmingham, 3-3 draw with Fulham and 1-1 with Barnsley after lockdown.
Prior to that, had Town once in December 2015, 2-0 home defeat to Wycombe and twice in the 2014-15 campaign, a 1-1 draw at Exter and 1-0 win at Tranmere.
That ended a lengthy run without officiating the Hatters, his previous game was a 5-1 defeat at Reading in the 2008-09 season, while he also had the 1-1 draw with Barnet that term, sending off Kevin Nicholls with 10 minutes to go.
Also officiated the 2-0 defeat at Huddersfield the season before, dismissing Paul Furlong, plus a 1-0 win over Yeovil, showing a red card to the Glovers' Paul Warne.
Before that, he had Luton just the once, a 2-1 win at Barnsley in September 2006.
Mark Pottage and Carl Fitch-Jackson are the referee's assistants with Ian Cooper the fourth official.
In charge: Philip Cocu – highly successful playing career spent at the very top after starting out with AZ Alkmaar in 1989.
The midfielder went to Vitesse and PSV Eindhoven, before a move for Barcelona in 1998, where he was named captain at the Nou Camp, winning La Liga once and playing in two Champions League semi-finals.
Left in 2004 as he headed back to PSV, winning another three Eredivisie titles, having one year in the UAE with Al Jazira, before retiring.
Also won 101 caps for Holland, playing in two World Cups and three European Championships, serving as captain too.
On retiring, joined PSV as youth coach and later assistant manager, while also served as assistant with the Dutch national team between 2010 and 2012.
Was caretaker manager at PSV in 2012, during which he won the KNVB Cup and was officially appointed as manager, leading the club to the Eredivisie title in 2015.
Successfully defended the championship the following year, before leaving Holland and was named Derby manager in July 2019.
View from the opposition: Boss Philip Cocu - “They are physical and play at a high tempo.
"They have three wins so we cannot think we will win easily.
"We have to respect their qualities and prepare well but we have the quality to get a good result.”
One to watch: Wayne Rooney - can't really be anyone else can it?
Vastly experienced and decorated forward came through at Everton, before a £20m move to Manchester United in August 2014.
Spent 13 years at Old Trafford, where he became the club's all-time record goalscorer with 253 to his name.
Returned to Everton in July 2017, scoring 11 in 40 games, until a move to America where he played for DC United, spending 18 months, scoring 23 in 49 matches.
Not just the Red Devils' top scorer but also England's as well, with 53 goals from 119 matches.
Since heading to Derby 18 months ago, has managed six goals in 26 so far, yet to get off the mark this season.
Friendly faces: Town assistant manager Mick Harford headed to Derby from Luton in January 1990, the Rams paying £450,000 to secure his services.
Scored 18 goals in over 50 appearances for the club, going back to Luton in September 1991 for £325,000.
Went on to finish his career with spells at Chelsea, Sunderland, Coventry and then Wimbledon.
County striker Jack Marriott arrived at Luton from Ipswich in May 2105, as he netted 28 goals in 91 games for the Hatters during two years at Kenilworth Road, as he was sold to Peterborough in June 2017.
Snapped up by Derby in July 2018 and he has bagged 16 goals in 93 games since.
Rams centre half Curtis Davies came through the ranks at Luton, making 52 appearances, scoring twice, before West Brom shelled out £3m for him in August 2005.
Went to Aston Villa for £8m and after time with Leicester, Birmingham and Hull, joined Derby in June 2017.
Has played 91 times for the Rams, with one goal to his name.
Keeper Jonathan Mitchell has been with Derby since July 2014, yet to make his league debut, with just five appearances in the cup.
Joined Luton on loan for a month in March 2016, playing five times and impressing, before an injury at Pride Park meant he was recalled.
Is now out on loan with Northampton Town for the season, playing twice so far.
Played for both: French midfield Arnaud Mendy joined Derby County's academy from FC Rouen in the close season of 2008.
He made just one appearance for the Rams in October 2009, before loans spells with Grimsby Town and Tranmere Rovers, moving to Macclesfield Town in July 2011 when his contract expired.
Left Moss Rose to join the Hatters in October 2012, going on to play seven games for the Hatters, before being released in December 2013.
From Luton, he went to Lincoln, Whitehawk, Maltese Premier League side Naxxar Lions, Hemel Hempstead, back to Whitehawk once more and most recently with Welling United.
We've got form: Luton started their meetings against Derby County at Kenilworth Road in awful fashion, hammered 6-0 in an FA Cup third round tie on January 5, 1946.
The competition was played over two legs for the only time in its history that year, Town losing the second 3-0 to go out 9-0 on aggregate, with County going on to lift the cup for the only time in their history.
Hatters improved in the league though, winning their first match at Kenilworth Road 2-1 in April 1954, putting a four game unbeaten run until losing 2-1 in 1962.
They managed five straight wins between 1982 and 1991, with four clean sheets, before back-to-back defeats, including another hefty FA Cup Cup reverse again, 5-1 this time, in 1993.
Town have been on top in recent visits though, as from their 22 games, Luton have managed 13 wins, two draws and seven defeats, scoring 33 goals and conceding 31.
Last time out: Luton left it late to claim a 3-2 win over Derby County in the Championship on January 28 last season.
After a goalless hour, the Rams led when Wayne Rooney's deflected shot flew past Simon Sluga for his first goal since arriving from DC United.
Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu then levelled three minutes later, hammering home from the edge of the box, before centre half Donervon Daniels leapt highest to head home his one and only goal for Town just 13 minutes after coming on.
Ex-Hatters' striker Chris Martin made it 2-2 with a thumping header of his own, before Luton stole the points with four minutes to go as County defender Jayden Bogle turned home Harry Cornick's cross.
Hatters: Simon Sluga, James Bree, Dan Potts , Sonny Bradley, Matty Pearson (Donervon Daniels 60), Glen Rea, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Pelly-Ruddocj Mpanzu, Kazenga LuaLua (Izzy Brown 68), Harry Cornick (Luke Berry 89), James Collins.
Subs not used: James Shea, Callum McManaman, Andrew Shinnie, George Moncur.
Referee: Andy Davies.