Steve McClaren believes Derby County’s players have proved there are committed to launching another promotion challenge in the 2014/15 season.
Derby finished third in the Sky Bet Championship in the 2013/14 campaign and achieved a club record points return, 85, in the process.
Following the heartbreaking Play-Off Final defeat to Queens Park Rangers in May, McClaren stated that keeping Derby’s squad together, with an eye on the future, would prove to be crucial.
Jeff Hendrick, Jake Buxton, Craig Forsyth, Will Hughes and Craig Bryson have all signed new long-term contract extensions during the last fortnight, which McClaren says is proof that the squad are dedicated to the cause.
“The players and squad are together as one and we talked about that at the end of last season, and they’re committed to the Club,” he told Rams Player.
“They were committed last season and I know they are now to do it again this time around.
“We’ve lost a few players through loans, that happens, but it was vital that we kept the majority of the squad together.
“The squad has been our strength so we can’t weaken it.”
McClaren says the potential within Derby’s squad excites him as he prepares for his first full campaign in charge at the iPro Stadium.
He has paid tribute to President & Chief Executive Sam Rush and Head of Football Operations Chris Evans for the recent contract renewals, as well as last week's signing of Cyrus Christie despite strong interest from other clubs.
“Sam Rush (Chief Executive) and Chris Evans (Head of Football Operations) have done a great job, knowing the contracts off one by one to bring a huge smile to my face,” he said.
“I’m happy because the players re-signing means we’re not going backwards and we can only go forwards, because the players and squad can get better.”
Watch more from Steve McClaren in an exclusive interview on Rams Player.