After Lewis Walker’s four-goal show against Birmingham City at St George’s Park on Monday, Darren Wassall has encouraged the players that have been on the fringes of Derby County’s Under-23 side to continue their impressive form.

With several players now out on loan to continue their development, spaces have opened up within Wassall’s squad, and Walker took his opportunity in superb style against the Blues.

He’s not the only one to impress in recent weeks, with left-back Sven Karic also forcing himself into the side after Max Lowe’s departure to promotion chasing Sky Bet League One side Shrewsbury Town.

Wassall wants this theme to continue on Sunday, as Derby look to do the double over table-topping Liverpool.

He told RamsTV: “We were delighted with the result, and also for some of the individuals that haven’t contributed as much as they would have liked this season.

“You might have to be patient and wait for a few months, and especially in youth football you have to make sure that you’re ready, so that you can take advantage of being picked.

“Sven has come into the team and done very well at left-back, and Lewis scored four goals, which is absolutely superb and a great achievement at any level.

“It will hopefully give him lots of confidence and hopefully he will be able to keep his place in the team and retain that No.9 shirt.”

The Under-23s were five games without a win before the dominating victory against Birmingham, but earlier the season, the Rams embarked on a run of form that included wins against Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool.

Derby’s Academy Director is sure that his side are a match for any team in the division, when they’re on their game.

He said: “We’re realistic and we understand that clubs like Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal have much more resources than us in terms of player recruitment, the teams that we play in this league are at the top of the European game.

“It’s a testament to the talent that we’ve got at the club that we’re competing on a regular basis.

“We know that they’ve got good players and we know that we’re in for a tough afternoon but we know that we’re capable of competing, we go into every game with an honesty and a work-ethic that gives us a chance.

“It gives everybody a lift when you go to a club with the stature of Liverpool and get a good result and perform well.

“All we’re asking of the players on Sunday is that they turn up and they give it everything.”