Countdown to the A52 Nottingham Forest v Derby County local derby

Action from the match between Derby County and Nottingham Forest at Pride Park Stadium in December.  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Action from the match between Derby County and Nottingham Forest at Pride Park Stadium in December. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

A place in the Championship play-offs will be on the minds of Nottingham Forest and Derby County as much as local pride when they clash at the City Ground on Monday.

The two sides, who drew 0-0 in the corresponding fixture at Pride Park in December, both harbor ambitions of a place in the Premier League next season.

The Rams remain favourites out of the two East Midlands rivals for a place in the play-offs, despite their 1-0 midweek home defeat to Millwall.

Derby are seventh, one place outside the top six and four points clear of the Reds with one match in hand.

The Rams have won just three of their last 11 league matches, but Reds boss Martin O’Neill said: “They are still in a prime position and they have the ability to do it. We are striving to get there.

“For us, the mistakes we make now will have to be fewer and we will have to take our chances at the other end.

“It is not just another game. This is a derby game that means a lot to the fans, it means a lot to players and a lot to managers.”

O’Neill said the derby was not “just another game” but one he always looked forward to, having featured in several during his playing career at the City Ground.

“I have some really good memories and some not so good. In the year we won the league, we beat Derby in our third or fourth game here, I think – and won quite convincingly.

“But then I remember us getting well beaten once at Derby as well, which the manager was not very pleased with.

“The atmosphere is always very good... electric.”

O’Neill also had words of praise for his opposite number, Frank Lampard.

“He has been doing fine in his first season in management. But you probably would expect that, given his background in the game,” said O’Neill.

Lampard said the derby was the perfect opportunity for his side to bounce back from the disappointment of the Millwall loss.

Calling on his players to show passion, Lampard said: “The Forest game is a good one for the club and a good one for us as there is not much motivation needed, that’s for sure.

“The race is on, and we are in a race to be in the top six, which is good.

“A reaction would be good on Monday and what better game to not need any motivation than against Nottingham Forest.

“We always talk and I am very open with the players. We have had a meeting already and this is by no means a crisis. This is a week where we have had below some par performances, so it is important to address it but with the right context.

“We have spoken about the last three games. The players aren’t stupid, they want to do well here and they know they weren’t our best games and now it is in their hands to go out and play, not just against Nottingham Forest, but all the games coming up. They are so important for us.”