Two Championship teams looking to avoid relegation will lock horns on the final day of the season as Derby County face Sheffield Wednesday for what is set to be a captivating encounter at Pride Park on Saturday.
At least one of these two clubs will be relegated to League One with a victory for the Rams guaranteeing their survival, while the Owls need to claim all three points and hope that Rotherham United fail to win away at Cardiff City.
Tom Lawrence broke the deadlock just after half time, but two goals in the space of three minutes through Connor Roberts and former Rams striker Morgan Whittaker turned the game on its head, securing all three points for the hosts and inflicting defeat on the visitors for the 24th time this campaign.
Fortunately for Derby, Rotherham United's draw at Luton Town in midweek means that their fate is now in their own hands and Rooney has called for his players to rise to the challenge of avoiding the drop.
The Rams have failed to win any of their last four meetings with Sheffield Wednesday, including a 1-0 defat at Hillsborough on New Year's day. However, they have lost only one of their last 25 home league games against the Owls, winning 14 and drawing 10 in the process.
Derby, who last played in the third tier of English football back in 1985-86, will survive if they win on Saturday or if they draw with the Owls and Rotherham fail to win their match at Cardiff.
Sheffield Wednesday claimed a vital point last weekend when they played out a goalless draw at home to Nottingham Forest.
Keiren Westwood's penalty save in first-half stoppage time proved crucial and it has given the Owls a fighting chance of avoiding demotion to League One for the first time since 2011-12.
Wednesday remain in 23rd place and three points behind Saturday's opponents Derby who sit just outside the bottom three.
Darren Moore was unable to return to the dugout last weekend as he is suffering from pneumonia and blood clots as a result of having had coronavirus, but Jamie Smith – who has been standing in for the Owls boss – is hopeful that the 47-year-old can return on Saturday.
Sheffield Wednesday travel to Derby with the worst away record in the Championship, having claimed just eight points from a possible 66 available, losing 16 games in the process.
Remarkably, the Owls have lost their final league game of the season in five of the last seven years, including a 2-1 loss to Middlesbrough last term.
Sheffield Wednesday can only survive if they claim all three points at Pride Park on Saturday and if Rotherham fail to win away at Cardiff.
Derby are having to contend with several injury issues, with defensive trio Curtis Davies, Andre Wisdom and Teden Mengi as well as midfielder Krystian Bielik and striker Lee Gregory among their absentees.
Strikers Colin Kazim-Richards and Martyn Waghorn – who have scored a third of Derby's goals in the Championship this season, with 11 combined – are the most likely pair to lead the line, while midfielder Lawrence, who has three goals in his last six appearances, is set to start just behind them.
For Sheffield Wednesday, defender Tom Lees was stretchered off in the defeat to Middlesbrough and is likely to miss the rest of the season.
Although Liam Palmer, Sam Hutchinson and Julian Borner started as the back three against Forest and kept a clean sheet, Moore may decide to start one of Chey Dunkley or Osaze Urhoghide, which would allow Palmer to play in a more natural right wing-back role.
Derby County possible starting lineup:
Roos; Clarke, Edmundson, Forsyth; Byrne, Knight, Shinnie, Buchanan; Lawrence; Waghorn, Kazim-Richards
Sheffield Wednesday possible starting lineup:
Westwood; Urhoghide, Hutchinson, Borner; Palmer, Pelupessy, Bannan, Reach; Windass; Paterson, Rhodes
We say: Derby County 1-2 Sheffield Wednesday
With Championship football at stake, immense pressure will be on both Derby and Sheffield Wednesday and Saturday's encounter is set to have plenty of drama and tension, along with a few tears of joy or sadness, depending on the result.
Taking into account their miserable run of form, it is hard to see the Rams claiming any points at present and even though the Owls have such a poor away record of their own this campaign, we can see the visitors securing all three points, which would see them climb to safety if Rotherham fail to win.
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