Derby County Manager Nigel Clough takes his team to Swansea City on Saturday hoping to complete a hat-trick of victories in eight days. But he's not banking on it - just like he wouldn't bet on the outcome of any match in an ultra-competitive and highly unpredictable npower Championship.

"I'm not a gambling man," said the Rams boss as he looked ahead to the weekend, "but I would think that when people try and pick results on the coupon they leave the Championship out of it! If you look at Saturday's fixtures, I don't think you could safely predict one result in the division. It's incredible - anything could happen.

"Just look at some of the results we've had - Millwall got off to a great start then get done 6-1 at home, Leeds get 4-1 up and then get beaten 6-4 by Preston who are in the bottom few, Watford were in great form and they go three behind to Swansea (final score 3-2), we couldn't win a game but then - after we'd only won one in seven - we put five and three past two good teams (5-0 Crystal Palace, 3-1 Middlesbrough) and I think that just sums it up at the moment.

"We are four points off the Play-Off places and three points off the relegation zone, and although it's only nine games gone that's what the Championship seems to be. Now we go to Swansea and with two teams scoring goals it could be 3-3, but then again it could be nil-nil - there's just no way of knowing."

One thing Clough does know is that at the Liberty Stadium he will be without on-loan Swansea striker Shefki Kuqi, who under the terms of his loan agreement is not allowed to play against his parent club. "It's a shame we can't play Shefki," said Clough. "He's been a big part of our performances in the four games that he's been with us and so we'll miss his presence.

"It's going to be tough at Swansea, who are in good form especially at home. It's a difficult place to go and we weren't very good there last year (Derby lost 1-0), but it's a different mindset now with a different set of players and we can go there and be a lot more positive this time."

Clough has been buoyed by the home wins against Palace and Middlesbrough in the last two games, those results following a hard-earned 1-1 draw at Barnsley. And ahead of next week's international break, the Manager is feeling cautiously optimistic about his team's prospects in the roller-coaster division that is the Championship.

"We hope the last two results have given us a platform to go and build from," he said. "We are not getting carried away, but the confidence that comes from winning matches is evident throughout the club.

"Our immediate aim is not to lose on Saturday so that we can go into the international break on four games unbeaten. A win would be ideal but, one point or three, if you can go into the two-week break with a good couple of results it can carry you through and you can pick up where you left off."

Derby County Manager Nigel Clough takes his team to Swansea City on Saturday hoping to complete a hat-trick of victories in eight days. But he's not banking on it - just like he wouldn't bet on the outcome of any match in an ultra-competitive and highly unpredictable npower Championship.

"I'm not a gambling man," said the Rams boss as he looked ahead to the weekend, "but I would think that when people try and pick results on the coupon they leave the Championship out of it! If you look at Saturday's fixtures, I don't think you could safely predict one result in the division. It's incredible - anything could happen.

"Just look at some of the results we've had - Millwall got off to a great start then get done 6-1 at home, Leeds get 4-1 up and then get beaten 6-4 by Preston who are in the bottom few, Watford were in great form and they go three behind to Swansea (final score 3-2), we couldn't win a game but then - after we'd only won one in seven - we put five and three past two good teams (5-0 Crystal Palace, 3-1 Middlesbrough) and I think that just sums it up at the moment.

"We are four points off the play-off places and three points off the relegation zone, and although it's only nine games gone that's what the Championship seems to be. Now we go to Swansea and with two teams scoring goals it could be 3-3, but then again it could be nil-nil - there's just no way of knowing."

One thing Clough does know is that at the Liberty Stadium he will be without on-loan Swansea striker Shefki Kuqi, who under the terms of his loan agreement is not allowed to play against his parent club. "It's a shame we can't play Shefki," said Clough. "He's been a big part of our performances in the four games that he's been with us and so we'll miss his presence.

"It's going to be tough at Swansea, who are in good form especially at home. It's a difficult place to go and we weren't very good there last year (Derby lost 1-0), but it's a different mindset now with a different set of players and we can go there and be a lot more positive this time."

Clough has been buoyed by the home wins against Palace and Middlesbrough in the last two games, those results following a hard-earned 1-1 draw at Barnsley. And ahead of next week's international break, the Manager is feeling cautiously optimistic about his team's prospects in the roller-coaster division that is the Championship.

"We hope the last two results have given us a platform to go and build from," he said. "We are not getting carried away, but the confidence that comes from winning matches is evident throughout the club.

"Our immediate aim is not to lose on Saturday so that we can go into the international break on four games unbeaten. A win would be ideal but, one point or three, if you can go into the two-week break with a good couple of results it can carry you through and you can pick up where you left off."

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