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Derby can deal big blow to Brentford’s play-off hopes

The race for promotion to the the promised land of the Premier League could take another dramatic turn on Saturday lunchtime, as Derby County clash with Championship play-off rivals Brentford at Pride Park.

Recent performances, namely a battling draw with Watford and away win at Wigan Athletic last time out, suggest Steve McClaren’s men may have turned the corner after a dismal downturn in form. That is why the Rams are odds-on 10/11 favourites with Coral for victory here.

McClaren has a not-so-secret weapon in his armoury for this encounter, and the Bees will not relish renewing acquaintances with fit-again Scotland striker Chris Martin. He has a perfect six in six career starts against Brentford, taking in spells with Luton Town and Norwich City, so Martin is well worth backing in the anytime market at 7/5.

Looking at the west London outfit from the outside, uncertainty over who will be their coach next term appears to have been counter-productive to their promotion prospects. Under outgoing gaffer Mark Warburton, they’ve won just two in six, but both of those have been on the road. Odds of 3/1 say they can make it three away victories on the spin in the East Midlands.

Hosts Derby will have to beware late rallies here, with the Bees scoring in second half stoppage time in all of their previous three games. Spanish attacking midfielder Jota has two of those, and is a tasty 10/3 anytime chance here, or temptingly long at 10/1 to net last again.

Both Brentford and County possess more than just one danger man apiece, though. Behind Martin, loan stars Darren Bent and Tom Ince have both scored seven apiece since making temporary moves to the Rams.

Two of those from Aston Villa-owned Bent have come in as many matches, so he is 13/8 in the anytime market. Winger Ince, meanwhile, is better value at 17/10.

Bees top scorer Andre Gray was on target last time out and in the reverse fixture at Griffin Park, so odds of 11/5 make him a worthy anytime shout. Northern Ireland winger Stuart Dallas bagged a brace on his last away outing, and also netted against Derby earlier this term. He’s a 7/2 shot to score again.

With just a point and two places separating these two teams, backing a draw is appealing at 12/5, but punters can be positive on McClaren’s men here. Neither side has kept many clean sheets lately, so odds of 27/10 for a County win and both sides to score are an attractive alternative.