Pools assistant boss expects tough task in FA Cup – even if Derby make big changes

Sam Collins makes a point to the Hartlepool United players
Sam Collins makes a point to the Hartlepool United players
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Sam Collins admits Hartlepool United will face a huge task in the FA Cup - even if Derby County ring the changes.

The Rams will start as overwhelming favourites for the third-round tie at Victoria Park on Saturday.

But County boss Paul Clement is likely to make a number of alterations to his starting XI.

While Pools have been inactive over the festive period, County have been busy boys with three league games in the space of eight days.

With a Championship match with Reading on Tuesday, Clement is set to rest a number of players.

The former Real Madrid head coach is unlikely to be too dramatic - Derby came a cropper at Portsmouth in the Capital One Cup earlier in the season after wholesale changes.

Defenders Chris Baird, Alex Pearce and Ryan Shotton could come in, with former Sunderland striker Darren Bent and ex-Villa attacker Andreas Weimann also likely starters.

There could also be a debut for Hartlepool-born keeper Jonathan Mitchell, who has been on the Rams bench for the past month.

“Paul Clement has the luxury to make changes if he wants to,” Collins said.

“Derby have a big squad and if he wants to make two or three changes, or whatever, without weakening his team then he can.

“Me and Ronnie (Moore) watched them at Leeds, where they drew 2-2 after Christmas.

“They have good players and a very good squad, as you can see by where they are in the table.

“This is a club who spent £20m in the summer and are going to spend again before this transfer window closes.”