Derby County Under-18s manager Justin Walker was encouraged by the professional manner shown by his side in their 2-0 win away to Middlesbrough on Saturday.

An early strike from Javaun Splatt opened the scoring and the Rams’ fifth consecutive league win was confirmed by Jason Knight’s precise finish five minutes from time.

The victory sees Derby climb to the top of the Premier League – North table and Walker was pleased to see his players grind out an important win.

Speaking to, he said: “It was a very good and a very professional performance. Great attitude and work ethic as usual too in a very difficult game to play really.

“Particularly after playing them last week, I think the lads have shown a really fantastic and mature attitude all week and shown that they can recover quickly.

“I think it’s so important that the players are able to play in different ways. We’ve been talking about that and have had a block of work this week, and that’s why I’ve said the lads have shown a fantastic attitude towards training and towards taking on different details in terms of how we want them to play.

“We’ve had a little change in terms of personnel and the shape that we played as well and I was thoroughly delighted with the performance levels.”

Despite being knocked out of both cup competitions with narrow losses, the Rams’ impressive league form sees them still with a lot to play for this season.

Walker’s side have made a habit of winning so far and he emphasised the healthy culture that runs right through the club.

He said: “Within the club there’s a culture and an attitude towards trying to win every game that is played.

“The first-team have that, the Under-23s are doing the same, and every team that goes out in a Derby County shirt is trying to win a game of football.

“If that means you end up somewhere in the mix in terms of competing in your leagues then fantastic, but I think the most important thing is that we’ve got players who are developing, progressing and preparing for the wider game and being ready to step into someone’s first-team.”

Key to Derby’s success so far this season has been the development and progression of the squad, with several players training with the club’s first-team and appearing in matchday squads.

With that in mind, Walker was quick to praise Frank Lampard for helping to boost his players that little bit further.

He said: “A lot has been said about that this year and I think the manager has continued that during the week in terms of training.

“He’s included players in matchday squad where he can, and I think that has been crucial for the development and confidence of our young players.

“Equally, they have to be ready and it’s not just a gimme or a little gift to them; he’s clearly including them in the squad because they might be able to contribute and come onto the pitch to do something.

“It’s not just him advertising the belief that he’s got in young players because he’s done that on a consistent basis, so long may that continue.”