The lure of Championship football and working under Rams boss Frank Lampard was enough for pacey winger Duane Holmes to swap Glanford Park for Pride Park Stadium on Deadline Day last month.
With time ticking away, the 23-year-old joined Lampard’s outfit in the dying hours of the 2018 summer window.
Since then, Holmes has been fighting his way back to full fitness and has put in the hard graft on the training ground to be part of the manager’s plans.
He made a telling contribution in the 0-4 victory over Hull City in the second round of the Carabao Cup as he provided two assists in his 30-minute cameo.
Armed with his fresh morning coffee, Holmes sat down with dcfc.co.uk to discuss life at Derby County so far.
He said: “It’s been good. I wasn’t match fit when I first came to the club but I feel like I have settled in well.
“I went to Austria with Scunthorpe in pre-season and on my first day I rolled my ankle and had bone bruising. It took a while to settle down but I got the half hour against Coventry and then came here on Deadline Day so I had a lot of catching up to do.
“It’s a very different environment to Scunthorpe United. I feel like I have been working hard and doing extra in the gym to try and improve myself and it’s a great place to come into work.
“It’s been a good start to the season so far. There were a couple of hiccups at the start but that’s going to happen in a long season. The performances are getting there, and I feel like we have a lot more to give and we are only getting started.
“I feel we haven’t really punished teams as much as we probably should have. I feel like we have dominated the ball and we have been aggressive on and off the ball but when it comes together we could be giving some teams some very good games.”
Holmes started his career with Huddersfield Town but found opportunities limited. After loan moves away from the club, the Columbus-born winger settled into life at Glanford Park and impressed.
With 12 goals in 94 appearances for the Iron, clubs were alerted to Holmes’ abilities.
“There was interest from other clubs in the summer and my agent mentioned Derby County. He said that if I had the chance to play under Frank Lampard then I must take it,” Holmes commented.
“I had been at Scunthorpe at 12noon and by 2pm I was at Derby’s training ground and was having a conversation with the manager. I grew up watching Frank Lampard so I was a bit starstruck, but I’m used to it now.
“He said that he had watched a lot of my games and wanted me to come in and do what I did for Scunthorpe. I want to get bums off seats and excite the fans and hopefully I can do that.”
With playing lower down the English pyramid, Holmes has had to adapt and has learned many lessons. “I learned a lot about myself,” he said.
“I learned what it takes to be at the level I want to be at. I didn’t have a really good time of it at Huddersfield.
“I was always in and out and didn’t establish myself in their team but the two years at Scunthorpe really developed me as a player.
“I learned what I could bring to a team. Playing week in, week out is invaluable experience.
“I feel every player wants to be part of this team because it’s a great squad, and I’m no different. There is a lot of competition but it’s healthy competition. Everybody wants to be the best in training and that’s what you need to be successful.”
With four consecutive wins and with confidence high, it can be argued that the international break has come at a bad time for Frank Lampard’s side but Holmes does not agree.
“It’s a chance to get some good work in on the training ground and recharge the batteries,” he admitted.
“In this league there are a lot of games, so it is nice to have a couple of days to be away, to go home, to relax, and then come back in and work hard again.”