Gary Rowett says having a ‘really, really strong staff’ has been a hallmark of Derby County’s impressive campaign to date.

The 43-year-old was this morning named as the Sky Bet Championship’s Manager of the Month for December - while goalkeeper Scott Carson picked up the Player of the Month accolade.

Derby claimed five wins and a draw from their six matches during the final month of the calendar year to move up to second place in the table.

Rowett, who this week signed a new contract with the club until the summer of 2021, was also the recipient of October’s accolade.

The Derby boss insists winning such an award is down to a collective team effort and not one individual.

He believes the off-the-field team have been vital in the Rams establishing themselves as genuine promotion contenders.

He told RamsTV: “When you receive anything like this, or if a player wins an award like Scott Carson has, you automatically recognise that it’s a team effort.

“There’s a lot of work that goes into the eleven players on the pitch. We have a really, really strong staff and that has been a hallmark of our success this season.

“We’ve had a strong period and it would be remiss of us not to appreciate we have had a good run of results which has got us into second place.

“It’s a nice accolade but we understand it means very little moving forward now. We need to go and win another one if you like by getting another good return in the next month.”

Rowett is well aware that Derby’s focus is now on the future.

Rather than reliving their achievements and successes so far this term, his focus is on what happens in the next 20 games.

He knows only too well that the Championship is a relentless league and that just because Derby occupy a top six spot at this stage doesn’t mean they have a divine right to remain there.

He said: “We’ve had a good period but it doesn’t assure us that we’ll continue to pick up results.

“Our focus is on what’s ahead and not what’s happened.

“We have to crack on with what needs to be done which is the most important bit.”