Alex Babos is excited to be back for pre-season and has explained how the work Derby County do now will become their advantage towards the end of the season.
The Under-23s returned to the Training Centre in partnership with University of Derby on Monday 2nd July.
Babos, who signed a contract extension with the club earlier this year, understands that the next few weeks are the most important to ensure they can weather the duration of another campaign in a tough league.
The Wales Under-21 international told RamsTV: “Everyone is looking forward to getting back into playing football after a couple of months out, we are really happy and enjoying ourselves.
“We’ve just got to get through pre-season and try and get as fit as possible for the start of the season.
“We know we are underdogs for most of our games in the big season so we need to know that we can compete physically to stand a chance in the league.”
The upcoming season will be the Under-23s’ third in the Premier League 2 Division 1 after a nail-biting conclusion to last season saw them retain their place for a further campaign.
The midfielder believes a strong pre-season proved vital in their pursuit to survive, with the fitness foundations that were set early on carrying them through to the final game, nine months later.
In the penultimate game of last season, against a strong West Ham United side, the Rams were dominant in a 1-0 win that ultimately sealed their fate.
“I think our physicality is one of the key aspects of us staying up in the past two seasons,” said Babos.
“It really does help towards the last five or ten minutes of games and towards the end of the season where other teams may start to fatigue.
“The past two seasons the last two games have been crucial and I think, particularly the West Ham game last season, our physicality and how lively we were ended up saving us from relegation.”
Despite being just 20-years-old, Babos captained the Under-23s for the second half of the season and was central to the team’s success.
Last season also offered him his first opportunity to spend time with the first-team when he travelled to East Midland rivals Nottingham Forest for the Sky Bet Championship clash.
Babos says he is excited about the appointment of Frank Lampard and the opportunities it could present for the academy players, but his focus is purely on what he can control - working hard.
“I will just keep my head down, work hard and see where it takes me,” he said.
“I would like to make my first-team debut, as would everyone, but I think for all of us we just need to work as hard as possible and the rest will take care of itself.
“We all know the new first-team staff come from an academy background and Frank knows what it is like coming up as a young professional. It gives us all the more incentive to push on.”