Derby County are heading into a crucial part of the season according to manager Frank Lampard, who takes his side to the DW Stadium to face Wigan Athletic tomorrow afternoon (3pm kick-off).

The Rams are approaching the hectic festive fixture list where there are a lot of points available to play for in a short space of time.

“Christmas is a crucial period,” the managed admitted, speaking to RamsTV.

“We realise we are getting to half way through the season so it gives you a good judge of where you are and hopefully a push for where you want to be going into the new year.

“It’s so close and tight, week in, week out, so I go game by game but you can look slightly ahead. There is no doubt it is a massively important period to pick up results against tough opposition.”

The Rams have been hit with a number of injuries in recent weeks.

Craig Forsyth, Mason Bennett and Curtis Davies have been ruled out for a sustained period of time, but the manager does not want to use that as an excuse.

“Injuries have gone against us recently and we need to step up as a group and those who didn’t have an opportunity now do and that’s good,” he said.

“Sometimes you see something new and they may step up and do well so that’s the challenge for us.”