Gary Rowett wants Derby County to cement their “fantastic” position in the Sky Bet Championship when they face high-flying Cardiff City at Pride Park Stadium on Sunday.
The Rams hold fifth-place going into the weekend and the showdown with Neil Warnock’s promotion-chasing Bluebirds presents the chance for Derby to get back to winning ways after seven games without success.
In contrast, Cardiff have won each of their last seven, but Rowett believes that it’s time for his side to show the form that reflects their top-six status in the league.
He told RamsTV: “We’re capable of turning a poor run into a run of wins. We have been one kick away from starting that run, which can give you added confidence going into the future games.
“We have to continue to work hard and we have to maintain our belief in what we’re doing.
“We’re in a fantastic position in the league and we have a great opportunity with nine games to go, and we have to channel the recent disappointment into a positive result.
“It’s important for us to get that win because the longer that you go without it, the more desperate you become.”
Injuries have hit the Derby squad hard in recent weeks, with Sam Winnall a long-term absentee, whilst Joe Ledley, George Thorne and Matej Vydra all missed the East Midlands derby with Nottingham Forest last weekend.
With Tom Huddlestone now suspended, Rowett has a selection dilemma in midfield, but he has the belief that a solution can be found.
On Friday, he said: “We only have 10 senior players training this morning, but it’s times like this where, as a manager, you have to earn your corn.
“It was the same last week, I felt we did enough to win. Now, we have less players, so I’m going to have to find a similar solution against a very good Cardiff team, but we’re confident.
“Hopefully, we can start afresh with the Sunderland game, after a breather and I’d like to think that most of the players would be back in shape.”
A big crowd is expected on Sunday at Pride Park, and Rowett praised the Derby faithful for their support so far this season, and he urged the fans to create a fantastic atmosphere for the final nine games of the campaign.
He said: “They have been really good this season, particularly in the big games, and more than ever, we need them to get behind the team.
“If they turn up in their numbers and they’re as vociferous as ever, then it really can help us in a game when we need to go the extra yard to get the result we want.”