Gary Rowett feels Derby County are approaching their final-day clash with Barnsley in a positive frame of mind.
Derby head into Sunday’s clash against the Reds (12:30pm) knowing that at least a point will secure their place in the Sky Bet Championship’s play-offs.
Four points from their last two matches, against fellow promotion rivals Cardiff City and Aston Villa, has strengthened the Rams’ grip on a top six berth.
Two points clear of Preston North End in seventh spot, the Rams have their destiny very much in their own hands.
The same applies for Barnsley who, ahead of Sunday’s clash, only sit outside the Championship’s relegation zone on goal difference following their impressive 2-0 home win over Brentford last weekend.
Rowett, 44, says everyone in the Derby camp is looking forward to the challenge of trying to extend their season and compete for a place in the Premier League.
Despite knowing a point will be enough for the Rams, Rowett insists Derby will be going all out for the win and not playing for a draw given what is at stake for both sides.
He told RamsTV: “The point we got at Aston Villa last weekend has given us the opportunity to finish in the top six with a draw or a win this weekend.
“We can’t go out for a draw, it’s as simple as that. We have to be on the front foot and try and win.
“Like the Cardiff match, in my opinion, we have to leave everything out on the pitch. We have given ourselves a fantastic opportunity.
“When you think back to those moments earlier in the season after the games at Sheffield United (3-1 defeat) and Bristol City (4-1 defeat) we would have been very pleased to be in sixth place and where we are.
“The last three performances, in different ways, have been incredibly positive. It feels like there’s a good vibe around the place as we prepare for the weekend.”
He added: “I know you can go into that last game of the season feeling nervous and not in good form, but it’s the opposite for us at the moment. I think we’re all excited and looking forward to it; we are all very confident.
“We are aware that Barnsley are fighting for their lives and we have seen that recently against Sunderland and Burton Albion (Derby lost both games).
“Those matches have been a good indicator for us because we have to go out and perform. Like I said, we are feeling positive about the game this weekend and quite relaxed.”
Derby have switched formation in recent weeks to positive effect.
After utilising a 4-2-3-1 system for the majority of the season, Rowett has started with three at the back in the last three matches.
Positive signs were on display in its first outing in a narrow 2-1 loss at home to Middlesbrough, before Derby produced a fine performance in the 3-1 win over Cardiff City at Pride Park and then drew 1-1 at Aston Villa last weekend.
Rowett has been quizzed about the formation change regularly in recent weeks but has suggested isn’t set on playing one set formation.
Instead, he believes there should be an element of disguise about how Derby will line up and they certainly have a group of players that are adaptable to switch on a game-by-game basis.
Rowett said: “The formation is always something to ponder about.
“There are times when four at the back works and times when five works as well. The 4-2-3-1 formation was perhaps at the stage where we were finding it hard to be as fluid as we wanted to be, which is why we changed in the first place.
“I wouldn’t say it was predictable but teams could set up and organise against it. What you don’t want to do, though, is change formation and play that every game because people can then work out how to play against that as well.”
He added: “There has to be that element of disguise if you like around what we do and we can change both formations in different ways. We will pick the one that we think is the most appropriate for this game.”