With the npower Championship season a fortnight away from kicking off, Nigel Clough has challenged the Derby County squad to increase their sharpness even more tonight.
Derby travel to League 1 Colchester United tonight to continue their preparations for the new season.
Clough is set to name a side which could resemble the line-up similar to the one likely to face Sheffield Wednesday on the opening day of the Championship season on 18th August, he’s looking for his side to increase their sharpness at the Western Homes Community Stadium this evening (7:30pm).
Derby named a youthful line-up against Northampton on Tuesday in their third pre-season game, but the likes of Richard Keogh, Jake Buxton, Paul Coutts, Michael Jacobs and new signing James O’Connor are set to start.
He said: “We had a look at a few of the younger lads at Northampton on Tuesday so the ones who were on the bench are almost certain to start tonight.
“We’re two weeks away from the season now so we need to start seeing a side that more or less resembles our starting XI for the opening game of the season, and beyond.
“One or two of the lads have knocks so we’ll see how they’re shaping up but, as we’ve spoken about before, we want to use these games to build patterns and partnerships – as well as increase our sharpness.
“We’ve looked sharper with every game; so we’d like to think that will be the case tonight as well.”
Clough also believes the step up in quality to face a League 1 outfit will benefit Derby.
He said: “We’re gradually stepping things up and tonight will be another good test for us.
“We’ve played a Conference side and two good League 2 sides so far, so coming up against a strong League 1 side will mean the quality we’re up against will be greater.
“It’ll be interesting to see how we cope with it, but it’s another key part of our preparations.”