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When Derby’s relegation was confirmed on Monday afternoon, Wayne Rooney acknowledged that he felt a feeling of pride rather than overriding disappointment, and it is probably the right attitude to take after such a draining campaign.
Despite all the restrictions and punishments which have come their way, Derby would be in 17th spot had it not been for 21 points worth of deductions, and the reality is that staying in the second tier was always going to be a task which would prove to be too tough.
Away form has done for the Rams, their 1-0 defeat at Queens Park Rangers representing their 14th loss from 22 games on their travels, and you have to go all the way back to January 3 for the last time that they collected a point.
Still, now that the dust has partially settled and a takeover appears to be close to completion, Derby can start to look forward and become optimistic about a new era, one which appears likely to have Rooney still at the helm.
Rooney and his squad will also want to add more points to a startling home record, given the circumstances, with 40 points coming from 21 fixtures at Pride Park.
Derby will have to make do without the suspended Tom Lawrence after the playmaker was sent off for two yellow cards at QPR.
Ravel Morrison should return as a direct replacement for the Welshman, and that may prove to be the only change made by Rooney.
Louie Sibley could also come back into the team on the left flank, taking the place of Jason Knight.
Jay Dasilva is a fitness doubt for Bristol City after his withdrawal against Sheffield United, but Pearson has hinted that the left wing-back could pass a late fitness test.
The Robins boss has the same impression of Antoine Semenyo, which could lead to an unchanged XI being selected for the fixture in the East Midlands.
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However, George Tanner, Joe Williams and Andy King are all in contention to return to the squad.
Derby County possible starting lineup:
Allsop; Byrne, Davies, Cashin, Buchanan; Bielik, Thompson; Ebiowei, Morrison, Knight; Plange
Bristol City possible starting lineup:
Bentley; Cundy, Klose, Atkinson; Scott, James, Weimann, Massengo, Dasilva; Semenyo, Martin