Richard Keogh says everyone in the Derby County camp is relishing another crack at the Sky Bet Championship’s play-offs.
Derby secured their place in the Championship’s top-six on Sunday afternoon with an emphatic 4-1 final-day victory over Barnsley at Pride Park Stadium.
The win, secured thanks to goals from Cameron Jerome, Matej Vydra, David Nugent and Tom Lawrence, condemned Barnsley to relegation to League 1.
After finishing in sixth spot in Gary Rowett’s first full campaign as the Rams’ boss, Derby will play Fulham over two legs to battle it out for a place in the Championship’s Play-Off Final at Wembley Stadium at the end of May.
They will take on the Cottagers at Pride Park Stadium on Friday 11th May (7:45pm) in the Semi-Final First Leg, before heading south to Craven Cottage for the Second Leg on Monday 14th May (also 7:45pm).
Keogh, who has made 289 appearances in a Derby shirt since joining from Coventry City in the summer of 2012, has been part of the Derby’s play-off campaigns in recent seasons - during 2013/14 and 2015/16 - and he hopes it’s a case of third time lucky this term.
The dependable 31-year-old Republic of Ireland international says the Rams will give it everything they’ve got, and enjoy the challenge, to try and overcome a Fulham side which came within a whisker of achieving automatic promotion over two legs.
He told RamsTV: “We weren’t too worried about where we finished going into the final game of the season; we just wanted to finish in the top six.
“We know we’re in for two tough games and Fulham have had an excellent season, but we’ll attack the game and see where it takes us.
“Anything can happen in the play-offs, as we know too well, and we’ll look forward to what’s to come.
“It’s a great opportunity for us and one that we wanted at the start of the season. We’ll give it a go.”
Derby went into the clash with Barnsley knowing that a point would be enough to finish in the play-off places.
Their 3-1 home victory over Cardiff City and 1-1 draw at play-off rivals Aston Villa in their previous two games put their destiny in their hands going into the final day.
If there were any pre-games nerves, Rowett’s side didn’t display any as they turned on the style to comfortably secure all three points.
Keogh felt the performances, and results, against Cardiff and Villa provided a solid foundation for the squad to build on in their final fixture of the regular league campaign.
“We knew it was a big game on Sunday and Barnsley had plenty riding on it as well,” he said.
“We went into the game confident and we were really professional. Our previous few performances were good and we took that into the Barnsley game.
“We produced a good performance and got ourselves a few goals as well.”