Richard Keogh says he’s had ‘special nights’ under the lights at Pride Park Stadium and Derby County are looking forward to another as they ‘give their everything’ against Fulham on Friday.
The Rams have part of their job done for the season, finishing in the top-six in the Sky Bet Championship, however they are only just getting started.
On Friday the Cottagers will arrive at Pride Park Stadium ready to take on a confident and in-form Derby side.
Keogh told RamsTV: “Our aim was minimum was a top-six finish, that’s cemented now and the play-offs is something we are all looking forward to.
“We know what the play-offs are like. It’s a pressure environment, but if you look though our squad the majority of us have been through a play-off campaign, so hopefully that will help us in the lead up to this.”
In fact, there are just three members of the squad that are getting their first taste of play-off action, Tom Lawrence, Jonathan Mitchell and Jamie Hanson. Although, Hanson was around the Derby squad for their 2016 appearance.
Keogh, who joined the Rams in 2012, has experienced two Championship Play-Offs with the club, reaching the showpiece final at Wembley in 2014 after outlasting Brighton and Hove Albion in the semi-finals.
With a wealth of experience on the team, Keogh believes it could provide an edge in an extremely competitive field.
“It can be fine margins, you can’t win it in the first leg but you can lose it,” Keogh said.
“But we are definitely ready for these two legs, we are ticking along very nicely and our togetherness is really showing through.
“There are four massive teams. It is the most competitive play-offs that I have seen since I have been here, but we will just get on with our work.”
Keogh hailed Fulham’s lengthy unbeaten run in the latter part of the season. However, as it came down to the wire with automatic promotion on the line, the Cottagers stumbled and suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Birmingham City on the final day of the season.
“Fulham are a fantastic team, to go 23 games unbeaten, that is some record in this league,” he said.
“It’s a bit like when we went on our run, it builds confidence and momentum. But it’s the play-offs now, it’s different, the season has ended and we will give it everything.
“I think they will be disappointed that they fell short at the end but they will be going in there thinking they can go all the way, like ourselves, we will be too.”
Unlike Fulham, the Rams are heading into the play-offs off the back of a 4-1 victory over Barnsley that followed a string of huge results.
A change in formation ahead of the clash with Middlesbrough saw a galvanised squad. Despite the loss, a good team performance carried through to a crucial win over Cardiff City and a hard-fought draw against Aston Villa.
With the first-leg being played at home, Keogh is calling for fans to help make it a special night at Pride Park with the same vigorous support they brought to the game against Cardiff.
“It’s nice playing in front of our own fans with the atmosphere that they generate but we will be ready for it anyway.
“I know these guys inside and out now and what they will bring to the table Friday, it will be an amazing one.
“The Cardiff game, with that night time feel, gave us that little bit extra. They will be up for this game just like we will be and I’m sure they will bring everything and really get us going.
“I’ve been involved in some special nights at Pride Park and I’m hoping we can do it a few more times.”