Derby County v Brighton & Hove Albion

Derby County boss Nigel Pearson with midfielder Jacob Butterfield

Nigel Pearson, pictured with Jacob Butterfield, makes his return to football management with Derby, having been sacked by Leicester City in June 2015

BBC coverage

How to follow:
BBC Radio 5 live, BBC local radio; live text commentary on the BBC Sport website

Derby will be without George Thorne for the start of the season after the midfielder underwent recent surgery on the leg he broke last season.

Nigel Pearson, in his first game as Rams boss, may also be without Jacob Butterfield and Marcus Olsson.

Brighton are without injured defenders Connor Goldson and Uwe Hunemeier.

However, Steve Sidwell is available after missing their last pre-season friendly, while Kazenga Lua Lua is also expected to be in the squad.

Brighton, who missed out on automatic promotion on goal difference before then being beaten in the play-offs last term, face a Derby side that also finished in the top six last season.


BBC Radio Derby’s Ed Dawes:

“I’m expecting a possible change of shape under Nigel Pearson. The Leicester City side that he won the Championship with three years ago was packed with pace up front and plenty of width.

“The Rams have played a 4-3-3 formation consistently since 2013, however in pre-season, Pearson has ventured forward with a 4-4-1-1 and a 4-4-2 diamond. It means the one way traffic into Chris Martin’s feet could change, resulting in the Rams having to find another way of being effective in the final third. Competition for places will highlight commitment to the cause.

“There is less pressure on Derby this term after they came up short when they started as favourites to win the Championship in past two season. That said, a top six finish will be a minimum for supporters who have once again invested heavily in their club this summer.”

Match facts

  • Derby County have lost just one of their last 10 home league games against Brighton – a 1-0 defeat in November 2011 (W6 D3).
  • Both meetings between these sides ended level last season, with the away side being pegged back both times.
  • Derby have not lost a season-opening game since 2008, winning four and drawing three of their last seven.
  • Both these sides lost in the play-off semi-finals last season – Derby to Hull City and Brighton to Sheffield Wednesday.
  • Excluding play-offs, Brighton started last season with a 21-match unbeaten run and finished it unbeaten in 14 games – their two longest ever unbeaten runs in the second tier.

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