Gary Rowett admits it has been frustrating to wait a fortnight for Derby County to return to Sky Bet Championship action and build on the positives his side displayed prior to the international break.
Derby’s last fixture was the 0-0 draw at Cardiff City at the end of September and, following the conclusion of the October international break, they will welcome old rivals Nottingham Forest to Pride Park Stadium on Sunday (15th October, 1:15pm).
Rowett, by his own admission, admits his side has struggled to find consistency in the early stages of the campaign.
The Rams went into the international break off the back of three successive draws, against Birmingham City, Brentford and Cardiff City.
The stalemates against Brentford and Cardiff came away from home and the Derby boss felt the results demonstrated a step in the right direction on the road.
However, he admits the international breaks – with two weeks between matches - mean it is difficult to build up momentum in terms of results and performances.
He told RamsTV: “Our home form has been excellent but it’s not been the same on our travels. I know it is a bit of a cliché, but I felt we turned a bit of a corner in terms of our performances at Brentford and Cardiff.
“It was important we got something from those games. We were five minutes away from winning at Brentford, whether it was deserved or not, and a fantastic defensive performance.
“At Cardiff we thought the overall performance was excellent and we could have won it in the last 20 minutes as well. We can’t quite find those wins just yet but I think it was a positive week.
“It’s just a shame we’ve had to wait a fortnight to build on it, but this is how it is until Christmas time really because of the amount of international breaks.
“It’s nice to have a breather, but we just seem to have five games and then a break and, therefore, it is difficult to create momentum both in terms of results and the games coming regularly.”
Rowett admits Derby’s fixtures so far this term have represented an ‘anomaly’ of a start.
Including cup draws, his side have played eight matches away from home so far compared to four at Pride Park Stadium.
The Rams also have a game in hand after the EFL postponed the home game against Ipswich Town in order for the Carabao Cup Second Round tie at Barnsley to take place.
“If you include the replayed game at Grimsby in the Carabao Cup, we have effectively had nine away games compared to just four at home,” he said.
“It is a real anomaly of a start. We are, on top of that, one game behind because the of the Ipswich game being postponed for the Carabao Cup tie at Barnsley.
“We have three home games in our next five so hopefully we can make the most of home advantage.”
Derby’s run of matches ahead of the November international break poses a tasty and challenging run.
Following Sunday’s local derby against Forest, Derby have a home game against Sheffield Wednesday, back-to-back trips to Norwich City and Leeds United before kicking off November with the visit of last season’s beaten play-off finalists Reading.
Rowett says the Championship is like no other league in the fact there are no blocks of games that, on paper, look easier than others.
Ahead of the next run of matches, he says the primary aim is for his side to climb the table.
“The Championship has evolved to such a state that you can’t look at a block of games and pick out easy and difficult periods, which you would be able to do in most other leagues,” he said.
“I have done that in the past and it ends up, sometimes, you do well in the difficult block and then not so well in the easier one.
“I think this division has now become such a level playing field and literally any team could beat another on any given day.
“As a result, consistency and mentality are two things you have to have in every single game. You have to put the same level of performances in and not be off it for a second; as we found at Sheffield United and Bristol City.
“You have to judge every period as an important one. In this next five games we need to pick some points up and climb the table which is our primary aim.”