Nigel Clough has stressed the importance of Derby County building on Saturday’s resounding 5-1 success at Millwall.
The Rams are back in Sky Bet Championship action tonight with an away game against Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium (8pm kick-off).
After getting back to winning ways following the first international break of the season in such convincing fashion at The Den, in what was Derby’s third straight away win in the league, Clough says it’s vital his side don’t waste the opportunity to maintain their impressive start to the season.
Bolton are without a league win this season so Clough says it’s important his side don’t get too carried away with the win in London, and retain their focus.
He told Rams Player: “Saturday was a great day but we have to make sure we build on it now.
“We had a high point a few weeks ago when we beat Yeovil and Brentford, but we didn’t capitalise on it by losing 3-0 to Burnley and letting ourselves down.
“It’ll be in the players’ minds still, especially as we’ll be reminding them of it, not to get over confident.
“Bolton haven’t started well but they still have a good squad, but we’ll certainly relish going up there and taking them on.”
On the shape of Derby’s squad for tonight’s game, Clough said: “One or two players picked up knocks on Saturday but they should be fine, and we’ll assess Jamie Ward right up until kick-off and see how he is feeling.”
Speaking for the first time about the win at Millwall, after first-team coach Andy Garner was handed the responsibility of speaking to the media on Saturday, Clough couldn’t hide his delight at the way his side went about their business.
Clough saw plenty of positives from his side’s performance, and in particular their ability to bounce back from the defeat to Burnley.
He said: “Saturday was a great day for us and there were so many positives for us to take away from the game.
“Craig Bryson’s hat-trick was memorable, as was Mason Bennett’s first league goal, and overall the quality of the goals were outstanding.
“It was important to bounce back from the Burnley defeat, we had long enough to dwell on it, and the players produced a fine performance.
“We hadn’t won at Millwall for a while so it was nice to achieve that feat on the same day that Craig became the first player in a Derby shirt to get a hat-trick for 17 years.
“We didn’t start too well on the day, but we got a goal relatively early and that helped settle us down.
“The first goal is hugely important in any game, but it proved to be crucial for us on Saturday and it could be the same at Bolton too.”
On Bryson’s goalscoring exploits, Clough added: “His stunning hat-trick means he’s on four goals already for the season now and we expect him to get double figures, with the way he gets into the opposition penalty area.”
Although tonight’s opponents Bolton sit joint-bottom of the Championship after six matches, Clough isn’t expecting them to find themselves there for too long.
Relegated from the Premier League just over a year ago, Clough has highlighted the Premier League experience in the Trotters’ squad as one of the main reasons why he is convinced they will climb the table.
He said: “Dougie Freedman did a good job at Bolton last year and although they’ve had a slow start, you know looking at their squad they will climb the table.
“I saw Dougie’s comments after their game at the weekend against Leeds that he isn’t too worried and believes they’re close to winning games, but we just hope that doesn’t come against us.
“With no disrespect to Millwall this, in its own ways, will be a tougher game for us considering the amount of players they have with Premier League experience.”
He added: “The way the Championship is, you wouldn’t be shocked to see Bolton in the top half of the table in the next few weeks.”
Watch Nigel Clough’s full pre-match interview on Rams Player.