Derby County manager Nigel Clough must choose two out of three strikers for game against Crystal Palace
THREE strikers are chasing two positions in Derby County's side for tonight's Championship clash against Crystal Palace, according to manager Nigel Clough.
Top scorer Jamie Ward and Conor Sammon have formed the strike pairing in the last eight matches since Ward returned from injury.
Chris Martin, on a month's loan from Norwich City, is now in the mix as well.
Martin played the second half at Watford last Saturday in a front three with Sammon and Ward before Sammon was replaced after 72 minutes by another striker, 16-year-old Mason Bennett.
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Clough said it had not been Sammon's day at Watford but he has also defended the summer signing.
"We think he has played well of late," said Clough.
"Conor is a player who has to be 100% at it with his closing down, with his energy, everything.
"He struggled on Saturday but he has played 35 games for us and as fit as he is, he isn't going to be on it every single game.
"He must still work at getting more chances and having more shots.
"As much as we admire his unselfishness, he has to get himself into more goal-scoring positions."
Derby's 4-3-3 formation at Watford was used to combat the Hornets' style of play.
Clough is keeping his team under wraps ahead of the Palace game.
"Chris Martin gives us another option because he is different to what we have got, as much as anything. He is not just another body," said the manager .
"He is different to Wardy, Conor Sammon and Michael Jacobs and he gives us another focal point to our attack.
"We are discussing the team but it pretty much picks itself.
"It is two from three in the forward positions at the moment."
All of Sammon's seven goals have come at Pride Park.
The Republic of Ireland international has yet to open his account away from home.
"That is odd," said Clough.
"You are not going to have as many attacks away as you do at home, so as a striker you have to make the most of your situations."