Bradley Johnson says the clash with Cardiff City has been built up to be a feisty night but Derby County’s only focus is leaving Pride Park Stadium on Tuesday night with three points.

Johnson returned to action on Saturday in the 2-1 defeat to Middlesbrough after being side lined for four games due to injury.

With three games remaining, the Rams' fight to end in a play-off spot is far from over and a win against the Bluebirds will see them squeeze back in.

Despite the result against Boro, Johnson believes there are many positives to take from Saturday’s match and build on in the final three games.

Johnson told RamsTV: “As a team I thought we did well. We started the game brightly and on the front foot which we wanted to do.

“We had a few opportunities – I had one myself from a corner which maybe I should have scored. I think we played well and the longer the game went on we were desperate to get that first goal but we just didn’t get it.

“We can take a lot of positives from the game – that’s the most corners we have had, shots on target, shots on goal but it comes down to getting that goal and we didn’t get it.”

Johnson’s return coincided with Gary Rowett’s introduction of a new 3-4-3 formation that he insists revitalised the Rams attack and was a good starting point for the team.

“I enjoyed [the different formation]. It gave us a lot more of the ball, we had a lot more opportunities and attacking options going forward,” Johnson said.

“It’s a shape that we worked on all week – maybe we haven’t worked on it long enough but I felt that we did well.”

The re-arranged fixture has garnered attention for matters outside of football since it was called off for safety reasons in late March, but Johnson and the rest of the team are solely focused on what they can do on the pitch and that involves making their way back into the top-six.

Meanwhile second-placed Cardiff have their own agenda. A victory would help their campaign for automatic promotion and see the Bluebirds pull away from Fulham – their closest rivals.

Johnson said: “Everyone wants it to be [a feisty night], but it (the postponement) happened so long ago now and we’re not thinking about that.

“We know what we have to do, we know it’s a must-win game for us and it’s a must-win game for them too. It’s going to be an interesting night but we can only concentrate on ourselves and go into the game with the right mentality that we want to win and put in a good performance.”

He added: “We have been saying it for a while now that we need to start picking up wins and this is it. We’ve been lucky enough that we still have a chance, this is a game in hand for us and if we get the three points we go back into the play-offs.

“I think a lot of people are forgetting that we are still in a good position – three games left and nine points to play for, if we get maybe six or seven of those we will get our place in the play-offs.

"We can’t think too far ahead, we are thinking about Tuesday night, putting in a performance and getting three points.”