Gary Rowett has called on his Derby County players to show the ‘drive and desire’ to take advantage of their game in hand against Ipswich Town and cement their position in the Sky Bet Championship’s top six.

The Rams finally face the Tractor Boys this evening – more two months on from when the game was originally pencilled in for back in September.

That meeting was postponed so Derby could fulfil their Carabao Cup Second Round meeting with Barnsley – which was also delayed following the abandoned First Round meeting with Grimsby Town.

It has meant that Rowett’s men have been playing catch up with the rest of the second tier, but that ends tonight.

And after a terrific run of form, Derby come into the game occupying the final play-off spot and this evening is now all about strengthening their position with the Christmas period looming.

“We’ve sat here many a Tuesday or Saturday over my whole career where you don’t get what you think you might if you don’t work incredibly hard and show that drive and desire to grab it,” Rowett told RamsTV.

“For us, it is the next game and it’s a home game where we want to play better than we did against QPR.

“I watched that match back and we had some good moments, but just lacked that quality or composure that adds to some of those attacking moments.

“We want to get this game out of the way because we want to be level with everyone else and have always been playing catch up.

“The testament to our form over the last 11 games is that we’re in a terrific position going into it. We want to win all of our home games.

“I have a lot of respect for Mick McCarthy, I think he is a great manager. He had a really tough season last year, but is once again doing what he does best.

“He’s very strong-willed in how he goes about things and he’s got a team up there challenging. The last time I faced Mick’s team I was out of the work the next morning, let’s hope that doesn’t happen again!”

It has been more than 10 years since Derby defeated Ipswich on home soil – when Arturo Lupoli’s injury-time strike sealed a 2-1 win in 2006.

As was the case with the Middlesbrough record, though, Rowett is not concerned by historical records and is merely focused on how he can affect the here and now.

“It means nothing,” the 43-year-old said.

“I don’t mean that in a blasé way, but we’re on a reasonably good run, we’re not playing so well in games that we are smashing teams off the park – we’re still having to work incredibly hard to win games and diligently to create the chances that we are.

“We’re going to have to do the same on Tuesday. Hopefully we will turn up ready and full of promise that we can go out and get another result.”