Over the past few seasons, Derby County have consistently been one of the top sides in the Championship, flirting with promotion to the Premier League via the yearly promotion playoff. Last season, they finished a strong fifth in England’s second division.
It was a result that got them into the playoffs against Hull City, who had finished fourth. What happened next wasn’t pretty, as Derby fell 5-0 on aggregate over two legs against the eventual promotion winners. And things haven’t gone much better so far in 2016-17.
Derby sit 20th in the 24 club league, with just six points to show from their first eight games played. They’re only a point clear of the relegation clubs. Despite that, Derby star and perennial rumoured Liverpool target Will Hughes says they’re feeling confident.
“We’re not going into the game just to take part,” said the midfielder. “We’re going into it to win. There are always shocks in most rounds of this competition, and hopefully that can be us. If we got the win it would be up there with the best results of my career.”
Hughes, though, is well aware it will be tough. Part of the reason he’s regularly been linked with a Liverpool move is that he’s always been a Liverpool fan, and so Derby’s 21-year-old star has been watching his upcoming opponents closely this season.
“What [Jürgen Klopp] has brought in is coming to fruition this season, and we’re seeing what he’s about,” added Hughes. “It’s fast tempo and high-pressing football, and Liverpool have had a great start considering the fixtures they’ve had.”