Nigel Clough says Derby County are ready for an action-packed week of Championship football, starting at Huddersfield Town tomorrow.
Two weeks ago this weekend Clough’s men signed off for the first international break of the season in emphatic style, by thrashing Gianfranco Zola’s Watford 5-1 at Pride Park Stadium.
In true Championship fashion, it’s out of the frying pan and into the fire as Derby go from no games in the last fortnight to three games inside a week.
After Saturday’s clash with the Terriers Derby have back-to-back home games on the fixture list, against Charlton Athletic (Tuesday 18th September) and Burnley (Saturday 22nd September), and Clough insists his side are looking forward to the challenge.
He told Rams Player: “It’s not just Huddersfield we’re looking forward to, but the week itself.
“After Saturday we’ve got two home games to come against Charlton and Burnley, which is something to relish.
“We’ve got six games before the next break, so we just want to keep performing and get into that top half.
“We know we’re capable of doing just that, if we perform to the same standard and tempo in the coming games.
“What we want to do is build up a resistance of losing games and having lost only one game in regular time this season, we’re showing signs of doing that.”
On Huddersfield, Clough said: “After gaining promotion last season, Simon Grayson has added to his squad and although they will be gelling as a team still the players he has signed are of a good quality.
“I think given the quality he has signed, they will come together quickly and like ourselves they’ve had an encouraging start to the season.
“As we saw with Sheffield Wednesday, the sides coming up from League 1 are just as tough as the ones that have come down from the Premier League.”
Clough’s troops used the international break to jet off to Spain for a spot of warm weather training.
As a result, Derby’s players were able to spend time together as a group, which the Rams boss felt was important to ensure that a number of his recent arrivals had the chance to be further integrated into the group.
“The break presented a good chance for the lads to go away together, and the trip to Spain was a chance to be as a group for a few days,” he said.
“The players trained hard, but they also had a chance to relax together and that is important.
“Bonding together is important and the team spirit is magnificent here, so the lads like being together and that’s very pleasing to see.
“When you’re not playing a game for two weeks, it can be a long time just training so a change of scenery won’t have done any harm at all and since coming back training has been superb.”
Clough allowed first-team coach Andy Garner to face the media after win over Watford a fortnight ago and speaking for the first time about the victory, he was delighted to see Derby register their first win of the season in a convincing fashion.
He has also urged his players to maintain their performance levels, having been pleased with how Derby have started the season.
He said: “It was good to go into the break in the manner we did, and we certainly felt a result like that was coming after the way we had performed in previous games.
“It was a lovely way to go into the break and in some ways we wanted to play the day after, but following a few days in Spain and a chance to rest up their appetite and work rate has been excellent.
“It was important to get a win before the break. The players deserved it more than anything for the way they’ve been performing, and it was nice for them to get their rewards in such convincing style.
“We’re hoping to pick up where we left off this weekend that is for sure because we’ve been scoring goals, we’ve got five twice already this season, but it’s all about keeping it tight at the back too.”
Watch Nigel Clough's full pre-match interview on Rams Player.