Scott Carson has warned Derby County that they need to make sure that they do not put themselves at a ‘disadvantage’ when they take face Nottingham Forest in Sunday’s East Midlands showdown.
The Rams take on the Reds in the 101st instalment of the historic local rivalry – with this first season’s first meeting taking place at Pride Park Stadium this weekend, kick-off: 1:15pm.
Playing in these big games is something that Carson has been used to over a career that stems back more than 13 years, but reflecting back, the shot-stopper says his first taste is one he will never forget.
Thrown in at the deep end, the 32-year-old’s first competitive start for Leeds United saw him come face-to-face with Manchester United – the club he supported – as he replaced the suspended Paul Robinson to help the Whites earn a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford back in 2004.
“That was special,” he told dcfc.co.uk in an interview ahead of Sunday’s game.
“That was my first competitive start and in essence is where it all began. I came on in the game before (against Middlesbrough) for the last few minutes after Paul Robinson got sent off and that’s the game I remember most.
“The first thing I remember is turning up. I was a Manchester United supporter growing up and I had never been to Old Trafford, so when the bus pulled in at the ground and I saw the size of the stadium, with me being 18 at the time that made me a little bit more nervous than I already was.
“It was a game that I basically just wanted to get through without too much hassle. I did what I had to do and we got a draw, which was even better!”
A cliché yes, but Carson spoke of the importance of temperament this weekend and Derby ensuring that the contest is treated in exactly the same manner as any other game is.
The former England international says it is imperative that the Rams make sure they do not put themselves at a disadvantage against the Reds.
“That can be said to any of the players that play on the Sunday,” Carson added. “We do know that these games, in particular, get you a little bit more riled up more than normal.
“They are often about keeping a calm head because we don’t want to put ourselves at a disadvantage.
“I know it isn’t seen this way, but it really is just another league game which we need three points from. It has to be treated exactly the same.”
Sunday is the start of a big month for Gary Rowett’s side, in which they will also face Sheffield Wednesday and Reading at home as well as Norwich City and Leeds United on their travels.
For Carson, the aim is simple.
“We have got a good run of games before the international break that, on paper, are tight matches against sides with similar aspirations,” he said.
“As a group, we know we need to go on a good run from now until the end of the season to climb up the table.
“It’s so tight and you’re only a run of back-to-back wins away from being in and around that top six. That’s easier said than done, but that has to be our aim over this block of five matches.”