Rotherham United boss Steve Evans vividly remembers the last time his side faced promotion favourites Derby County.
It was the Millers’ Championship bow back in August and, early on, they were under the cosh at a packed iPro Stadium.
Evans recalled: “I said to the fourth official ‘How long has gone, half an hour?’ and he said ‘No, nine minutes’.
“We had such a battering for 20 minutes! I remember looking up to the sky and thinking ‘Welcome to the Championship, Evo’.”
Tonight the Rams, just one point off the top of the table, are at AESSEAL New York Stadium and the Millers manager believes his side are capable of avenging their 1-0 defeat in the East Midlands after successive home wins over Bolton Wanderers and Ipswich Town.
“Yes, we can make it three out of three,” he maintained
But he knows his side, just back from a training break and missing loan striker Conor Sammon, who won’t play against his parent club, have to be at the top of their game.
“We’re not silly, we need things to go our way and we need to be at the top of our game. It needs Derby to be maybe just a notch down,” he said.
“A few weeks ago I looked at the Derby bench that (manager) Steve McLaren was able to name. For me, every one of those players would start at every other club in the Championship.”
The Rams are set to be without top scorer Chris Martyn and winger Johnny Russell, who both have hamstring problems, so former England international Darren Bent is expected to lead the line. Attacking loan midfielder Tom Ince is available.
Meanwhile, Evans said the club are in talks about extending the loan of Crystal Palace left-back Zeki Fryers, and he has finally shared a drink with left midfielder Ben Pringle who is out of contract in the summer.
“We’ve had that cup of coffee, yeah,” he revealed.
“Talks are ongoing now. There was an offer made a while back. We’re talking around it.”