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Watford will not have a better chance to stop Derby dearth

Easter is a make or break period for teams battling for Championship promotion, and Derby County and Watford certainly fit into that category.

Recent history in this fixture favours the Rams, who have won the last three, but this fact contrasts sharply with their current form. County are on a six-match run without victory, losing four, yet Coral make Steve McClaren’s men firm 11/10 favourites for three points against the Hornets.

Hertfordshire outfit Watford were characterised by managerial instability earlier in the season to the point where jokes circulated that that the head coach’s office at Vicarage Road had a revolving door installed. Slavisa Jokanovic’s team are unbeaten on the road in the last two months, making odds of 5/2 for an away victory attractive.

Even a share of the spoils is appealing at 23/10, primarily because of the striking exploits of Hornets captain Troy Deeney. While leading Derby marksman Chris Martin has nursed an injury, his Watford counterpart has flourished. Deeney has five in his last four away outings, so is decent value at 6/4 in the anytime market, and 11/2 to grab the opener.

Scotland striker Martin may make a Rams return here, but looks short to score in this game at 6/5. Unwanted Aston Villa striker Darren Bent should deputise, having returned to action himself before the international break.

He’s clearly still got it, after netting seven in 14 Championships outings on loan at Brighton and now County. Punters that fancy the hosts should back Bent at 5/4 anytime or to open proceedings at 5/1.

Even if the Derby attack is strengthened, their spine is still weakened by the absence of Jake Buxton and Omar Mascarell, who should both miss the rest of this season injured. The Hornets have already capitalised on their promotion rivals dropping points by overtaking them, so now this is a golden opportunity for them to get just a second win in six meetings.

Awesome odds of 11/2 say Watford will win with both teams scoring, and the form of Deeney, backed up by Nigerian attacker Odion Ighalo or Czech Republic forward Matej Vydra (2/1 anytime chance), means this is a real possibility.