First Team Coach Simpson gives his verdict on Derby's first pre-season game of the summer.

First Team Coach Paul Simpson felt Derby County got ‘exactly what they wanted’ out of their opening pre-season friendly of the summer on Thursday evening, as the Rams ran out 1-0 winners at Matlock Town.

A first half goal from Craig Forsyth was the difference between the two sides at the Autoworld Arena.

Derby used 22 different players against the Evo Stik Premier Division side, with every individual player available for selection getting 45 minutes under their belts.

Simpson felt Mark Atkins’ Gladiators provided a worthwhile exercise for Derby as they stepped up their pre-season preparations.

He told Rams Player: “It was a good workout and exactly what we needed.

“I thought Matlock really put themselves about and showed good energy.

“We got what we wanted out of the game with the players getting 45 minutes each, which is important.

“They all came through unscathed and it was an extension to our training.

“We saw some good things in the first half, while the second half allowed us to look at a few other players in the squad such as the young lads in the Under 21 set-up.

“There are things we can work on, but we know that because we’re only a week into our pre-season programme.”

He added: “It was good for Matlock too; we wanted to get a decent crowd in to help them get through the season.

“Our supporters turned up in numbers and saw an entertaining game.” 

Forsyth scored the only goal of the game following a fine one-two with Chris Martin and Simpson felt the Rams’ dominance in the opening 45 minutes deserved a goal.

He said: “We could have been a few goals further ahead at half-time, but Johnny Russell hit the crossbar and their goalkeeper made a few good saves.

“Craig Forsyth took his goal superbly; it was a clean finish from him."

Midfield duo Will Hughes and John Eustace missed the game with what Simpson described as ‘niggles’.

Derby were also without Jeff Hendrick, Richard Keogh and Simon Dawkins as a result of their extended summer breaks, while goalkeeper Lee Grant is nearing the end of his rehabilitation work after undergoing a minor knee operation in May.

He said: “We hope to have Will Hughes back soon as he has a little niggle and likewise with John Eustace as well.

“We obviously have Richard Keogh, Simon Dawkins and Jeff Hendrick back with us after being given a few days extra to recover from their international commitments in early June.

"They'll get game time again soon but having only returned yesterday it was too early to go straight into a game."

Derby’s next pre-season friendly is at local non-league outfit Ilkeston FC on Saturday (5th July, 3pm).

Watch Paul Simpson's full post-match interview on Rams Player.

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