Nigel Clough hopes Derby County have got taste for more clean sheets, after keeping their second successive shut-out on home territory against Wolverhampton Wanderers at the weekend.
Derby won’t have long to wait to see if they can keep a third straight clean sheet in front of their own supporters, with Bolton Wanderers visiting Pride Park Stadium tomorrow night in their final midweek home fixture of the season.
Seven clean sheets have been recorded in all competitions this season, which Clough says isn’t enough, and he believes the Rams’ hard work on the training ground to be a more solid defensive unit is starting to pay off.
He told Rams Player: “The clean sheet was the most notable achievement to come out of Saturday’s game considering the back four we had out, as well as the quality Wolves have going forwards.
“That was the best clean sheet we’ve had this season considering the circumstances and it’s certainly given us something to build on, especially as we’ve kept two in a row at home now (against Huddersfield Town and Wolves).
“We’ve not had enough clean sheets this season and we’ve conceded too many goals, especially away from home, but we’ve started to get in a good groove at home now in terms of keeping it tight and not conceding.
“It’s something we’ve worked hard on and aimed to improve as well and if we keep doing that, we’ll give ourselves a great chance of keeping our good form going at Pride Park.”
With defensive quartet Mark O’Brien, Jake Buxton, James O’Connor and Shaun Barker all nursing knee injuries and veteran full-back Gareth Roberts serving a suspension, Clough was forced to name an unfamiliar back four at the weekend.
Full-backs Kieron Freeman and Michael Hoganson, on his debut, were aged 20 and 19 respectively whilst right-back John Brayford lined up alongside skipper Richard Keogh in a patched up Rams rear-guard.
As a result, Clough was quick to heap the praise on Republic of Ireland international Keogh showing his true leadership qualities in helping Derby to claim a point to go alongside their clean sheet.
“With Hoganson and Freeman being young full-backs, and John Brayford out of position, Richard held it all together superbly on Saturday,” he said.
“That’s where we see the benefit of him, and helping the younger players as well.
“He was superb throughout and he played a huge part in organising the defence, as well doing his normal job.”
Watch Nigel Clough’s full interview on Rams Player.