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Steve McClaren may rest Derby County players at Leeds United ahead of Championship play-off ties

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: April 29, 2014

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STEVE McClaren admits he faces a stick or twist dilemma ahead of Derby County’s final league game of the season.

The Rams travel to Elland Road on Saturday to take on Leeds United knowing they have already booked third place in the Championship.

Their two-legged play-off semi-final takes place on Thursday, May 8, and Sunday, May 11.

It means the Rams have three matches in nine days.

McClaren has to decide whether to rest some players for the play-off challenge or go to Leeds with the nucleus of the team that has built impressive momentum.

Derby have won their last five games and seven of their last nine.

They are chasing an 11th straight win against Leeds.

“It is a difficult one, and one I will have to think about,” said McClaren, when asked if he will make changes.

“The players have done really well, but when you are in the play-offs it means three games in a short space of time,” he added.

“How we approach that is something we need to think about.

“It should be that whoever I play goes out to perform and to win.”

Derby’s thrashing of rivals Nottingham Forest on March 22 was the first of nine games in 39 days, and eight players started them all – including the back four of Andre Wisdom, Richard Keogh, Jake Buxton and Craig Forsyth.

Midfielders Craig Bryson and George Thorne, and top scorer Chris Martin are three others along with goalkeeper Lee Grant, who has been ever-present this season.

Derby’s substitutes’ bench for Saturday’s victory over Watford featured Adam Legzdins, Zak Whitbread, Lee Naylor, John Eustace. Will Hughes, Simon Dawkins and Patrick Bamford.

Conor Sammon (pictured) missed out due to a rib injury, but the striker is expected to be available.

“Conor picked up a strain in the muscles between his ribcage,” said first-team coach Paul Simpson.

“It was an innocuous injury. He turned and had a shot in training and felt something in his ribs.”

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