Gary Rowett admits there’s a sense of anticipation in the air as Derby County prepare to take on East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest.
Derby will welcome the Reds to Pride Park Stadium for the first meeting between the two sides this season on Sunday afternoon (1:15pm kick-off).
The Rams’ last Sky Bet Championship fixture was two weeks ago as they held early league leaders Cardiff City to a draw in the Welsh capital.
The wait and build-up has been longer than usual for the derby day clash and Rowett wants his players to channel their excitement and enthusiasm towards producing a winning performance.
Speaking at Friday’s pre-match press conference, Rowett said: “There’s a real sense of anticipation when you’ve not had a game for two weeks.
“It just so happens that this is the next game and we all know about this local derby.
“Are we nervous about it? No, not really. We want to embrace it and we’re really excited for Sunday to come around.
“The big atmospheres and the big games are what you enjoy and crave. There won’t be a player that steps foot on the pitch on that Sunday won’t be looking forward to the game, and what you want to do is turn that excitement and enthusiasm into a controlled and winning performance.”
Local derby games, naturally, grab the attention more than most.
This weekend’s match is no different and Rowett insists there’s pressure on every game, from a manager and player’s perspective, rather than just matches which are deemed more important than others.
He said: “We know it is big and I’m not going to try to play it down or claim it’s not a massively important game and that it’s just about three points.
“It is, ultimately, three points up for grabs but we know it’s an important game. We will be really well prepared for it and we have a near fully-fit squad after a good week of training.
“We’re very much excited about the fixture. There’s pressure on every single game you play or manage for various reasons; you could be wanting to keep a run going or want to bounce back from a defeat.”