Derby had a mixed bag of results over the festive period.
A disappointing 3-1 defeat at Sheffield United on Boxing Day was followed by a brilliant comeback to win 4-3 at Norwich in what was a real display of character and strength from the team.
The New Year's Day clash with Middlesbrough brought the same result as the Riverside Stadium clash earlier in the season with a 1-1 draw against a very defensive Tony Pulis side.
The January transfer window has opened and manager Frank Lampard has indicated that we won’t be too busy during it. A couple of incoming loans may be our lot for this season.
There are many areas that we could improve, but if we are restricted to just a couple of loans the question is which areas should take priority for strengthening? Defence is a definite and an alternative starting option up front appears to be the choice in the stands.
We have struggled in the left back position in particular. Marcus Olsson has been out injured all season and Craig Forsyth has joined him on the treatment table with another serious injury. Max Lowe has returned after a successful loan spell at Aberdeen and provided he can keep himself fit, the position could be his at least until Scott Malone returns. The last couple of games has seen Andre Wisdom playing in the role despite being a natural right footed player.
Will we look at centre halves? With Curtis Davies out for the rest of the season, it might be a good idea to bring in a commanding dominant player for the middle of our defence. One thing is for sure and that is that we must tighten up at the back.
We have a few attacking options, but in the centre-forward position Jack Marriott doesn’t have a great amount of competition and we really do need a Plan B for when Marriott isn’t finding the net. David Nugent is at the veteran stage of his career and Martyn Waghorn seems to be preferred in a wide role.
Lampard will no doubt have a list of players that he is looking at to fill the positions he feels need the most attention. Getting those players is another thing. Ethan Ampadu has been a rumoured target for a while now, but the indications are that he is unlikely to be loaned to a Championship side.
No doubt the press will be full of rumours in the coming weeks until the window closes. We will have to sit and wait to see what moves the boss makes.
On Saturday we enter the FA Cup as it is now at the third round stage. Southampton are visitors to Pride Park in what looks like another potential Premier league scalp. No doubt they won’t want to be eliminated against a lower league side, but don’t write off Derby County. The impressive win against Manchester United in the Carabao Cup and the brave effort against Chelsea will have the team hungry for another top showing.
The FA Cup has sadly been downgraded on top flight club's priorities and the world's oldest competition doesn’t generate the same kind of excitement for some. I am one of those who would like to see more effort in making this competition great again. The Murdoch Sky revolution has done much damage to the game for the traditionalists and the FA Cup deserves far better coverage and recognition than it currently gets.