Gary Rowett believes Derby County face an important period of Sky Bet Championship action over the next few weeks.
Derby got February off to a winning start with a resounding 3-0 victory at home to Brentford last weekend.
Rowett’s side face Norwich City and Leeds United at Pride Park Stadium, and will also head to Sheffield Wednesday and Reading, before the month is out.
The Rams currently occupy second spot in the table and have Aston Villa and Cardiff City on their coattails as the promotion race begins to hot up.
Derby go into Saturday’s clash against Norwich unbeaten in 11 matches in the league, a run stretching back to the end of November.
Rowett insists it’s vital his side adopt a balanced view as the games begin to tick down, regardless of their results.
He told RamsTV: “We’ve got an important period coming up (before the end of February).
“We’re coming off the back of a very good home win which, after a couple of draws, was very important.
“We know that some of the other clubs around us are winning games regularly at the moment. We have been in that position and know the wins don’t go on forever, especially in this league.
“We are happy where we are but it is an important period. The nature of everyone’s form means we have to maintain those wins and points going on the board, while it’s also important to have a balance about things and know that even if we lose a game or draw one, it isn’t the end of the world.
“All of the teams at the top end have got to play each other so points will be dropped and there’s lots of twists and turns ahead.
“When you’re at this stage of the season and sitting in second spot like we are, we need to keep winning and that’s the pressure of trying to achieve something. We have to have do that with a balanced view, like I said, and let other people react to every game.”
Derby’s unbeaten run in the league is their best since the promotion-winning 1995/96 season at the Baseball Ground.
Rowett was part of the Rams’ playing squad under Jim Smith as they went 20 matches – and four months - without a defeat to finish in second place behind champions Sunderland.
The 43-year-old admits, without looking too far ahead, it would be some effort to hit that same number once again – but believes Derby’s current run displays a strong mental strength within the group.
He said: “I wasn’t aware until last week that this is the longest unbeaten run in the league since that season.
“You would have thought a club like Derby would have had a run like that over the last 20 years or so.
“I think it shows what good form we’re we are in and how mentally strong we are as a side to keep putting performances in week after week.
“We feel we’ve found more consistency this season, but it would be some effort to hit the 20 games.”
Next up is a tasty-looking home fixture against Norwich on Saturday afternoon and the Rams’ boss is looking forward to the challenge.
Derby were 2-1 winners at Carrow Road when the sides met back in October, thanks to a late goal from substitute Sam Winnall.
City occupy a mid-table spot but have been in good form since the turn of the year and claimed an impressive 1-0 win at promotion-chasing Bristol City last month.
Rowett feels the Rams will face a different type of test to the one posed by the Canaries earlier in the campaign.
He said: “It was an excellent win down there during another important period for us. We went to Carrow Road and won and then went to Leeds and got another excellent result three days later.
“After the tough away run we got ourselves back-to-back away wins which was very pleasing. I think it will be different Norwich we’re coming up against this weekend; they have gone back to a back five and are very hard to break down.
“They create less chances but are much harder to beat. It will be a different type of challenge.”