Defender Richard Keogh has challenged his Derby County team-mates to rise to the occasion as the Rams face a local derby clash at Nottingham Forest on Monday night.

Derby, who sit just outside the play-off spaces, head into the game at the City Ground four points ahead of their rivals.

A win for the Rams could extend that gap to seven points heading into the final 13 games of the season and Keogh believes that motivation should be enough for the players.

“This is always a game you look out for when the fixtures are released,” he said. “It’s always great to be involved in these derbies. The rivalry is really fierce and it’s one to get excited about for the players.

“We know what’s at stake for everyone and it’s games like this that can really give you a lot of confidence going into the business end of the season.

“You shouldn’t be going into the match with fear. It will be in front of a packed stadium in front of passionate fans and as a footballer, that’s why you get into football.”

Monday’s game will be Keogh’s 14th East Midlands derby since joining from Coventry City in 2012.

The defender has been on the winning side on five occasions and has also seen the Rams draw five times with their rivals.

With his experience in the fixture, Keogh will be keen to pass on his knowledge to his team-mates ahead of the game.

“You have got to play with desire and passion, but you have got to play with a cool head as well,” he explained. “That’s the biggest thing I’ve felt when we’ve gone into these games.

“You have to play with the intensity and passion that goes with a derby game, but you have to be cool in your mind when you’re on the ball. You don’t want any silly red cards, but you want to make sure you stamp your authority in the game.”

The game will be manager Frank Lampard’s first as a manager at the City Ground and Keogh has high praise for his boss.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with the manager,” he commented. “I’ve really enjoyed what he is about, not only as a manager but as a person and the standards he brings.

“His work ethic and desire to achieve what he has in his career is something that resonates with myself by just trying to get the best out of yourself. That is by training hard and giving everything you have got. He has come in and set that really high standard, especially in training.

“The intensity and quality of training is really good, the style of play suits the squad of players that we have got and when you come into your first managerial job, you see things that don’t envisage when you are a player.

“He has probably learned a lot about himself as a person and how to deal with situations, but he has proven he can be a fantastic manager and Derby is a great place for him to come to. We have an identity of how we play and it is important so we know what to do and credit goes to him.

“He has been fantastic, as well as his coaching staff, Jody Morris, Chris Jones and Shay Given. They have all brought something and it’s been enjoyable working under them.”