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Derby aim to end a bad week by giving Birmingham the blues

Cocu’s Rams bid to get things right on the pitch.

Derby County manager Phillip Cocu is seeking a lift (PA)
Derby County manager Phillip Cocu is seeking a lift (PA)

By PA Sport Staff

Derby aim to make headlines for the right reasons after a horror week which saw Mason Bennett and Tom Lawrence charged with drink driving and captain Richard Keogh ruled out for the season in an “alcohol-related incident”.

Birmingham visit in the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday but the spotlight is likely to remain on the Rams’ off-the-field affairs after manager Phillip Cocu revealed at a press conference how a team bonding session ended badly.

Cocu, who has yet to decide whether Bennett and Lawrence will feature in the match, said: “It’s bad news and a bad situation for everybody at the club.”

Meanwhile, Leeds manager Marco Bielsa highlighted the league’s unpredictable nature ahead of the leaders’ match at eighth-placed Charlton.

The Addicks secured promotion from League One via the play-offs last season under former Leeds midfielder Bowyer and go into the game just three points behind their opponents.

Leeds narrowly missed out on promotion last year after being knocked out of the play-offs by Derby and Bielsa said he was not surprised by Charlton’s impressive start.

The Whites head to the Valley looking for a sixth successive away victory and Bielsa told the club website: “Charlton are a team who have started well but every team has ups and downs and anybody can win or lose against everyone.

“I’m not surprised with Charlton’s start, what makes the Championship special is before every match you can think one team will win but after the match it sometimes doesn’t happen.”

Bowyer, who spent seven years as a player at Elland Road said: “For me they’re the best team in the league. They should have gone up last season but fell just short.

“It’s going to be a tough game. They’re up the top for a reason. It’s going to be a good challenge.”

In the battle for promotion places, in-form QPR will be looking to maintain their recent good form against unbeaten West Brom.

The sides are only separated by goal difference and boss Mark Warburton told www.qpr.co.uk: “The boys have done exceptionally well and all credit to them.

“They have done so well to get four on the spin but it’s irrelevant now. We are in a good place but we face a formidable test in West Brom and we will have to be at it.”

Second-placed Swansea will be looking to return to winning ways after a defeat and a draw from their last two matches when they take on a Reading side who have lost their last four matches.

“For sure it will be tough,” Royals boss Jose Gomes told the club website, adding: “They play very good football and they have very good players.”

Elsewhere on Saturday, Bristol City are at Preston, Middlesbrough take on Sheffield Wednesday, Luton travel to Blackburn and Hull face Cardiff, while bottom club Huddersfield host Millwall.

PA

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