Midfielder Tom Huddlestone believes if the Rams keep up the level of performance they showed in the goalless draw against Stoke City, they will be in a strong position to cement a place in the Sky Bet Championship's play-off places.
The Rams moved back into the top six after sealing a point against the Potters but the Rams were frustrated for a lot of the evening due to the excellent form of Stoke and England goalkeeper Jack Butland.
Huddlestone forced a good save from the goalkeeper in the first half and Butland thwarted further chances from the Rams as they were forced to settle for a point.
“The couple of saves he pulled off in the first half were brilliant to be fair to him,” Huddlestone told RamsTV. “He is a top-class goalkeeper and it’s what you expect but we have probably got to be a bit more clinical that we were as well.
“I thought I caught the volley well and there was a few bodies in the way so I thought it was going in, even if he managed to get a hand to it but he got a stronger hand to it then I expected and he tipped it around the post for a corner.
“We have had a few good chances tonight to be fair but a little bit of luck and a little bit more clinical and it could have been a comfortable evening but it was a frustrating one.
“If we keep the level of performance from tonight going into the last nine games, home or away, we should cement our place in the top six.
“On another night that could have been a comfortable victory and we would have come back after the international break on a high but it wasn’t to be. Their goalkeeper has played well, we haven’t been as clinical as we could have been but it’s still a point gained.”
The Rams recorded another valuable clean sheet on Wednesday night and limited the Potters to little chances on the counter attack.
“We have thrown the kitchen sink at them and they stood firm,” Huddlestone said. “We didn’t want to get done by a sucker punch which we have done in the past.
“They have got individuals at the top of the pitch who can hurt you and players coming off the bench. Even though we were on top, at half time we stressed about doing things the same way and make sure we keep a clean sheet.
“We have created a few clear-cut chances and they seemed to want to catch us on the break which they did once from our corner.
“They had a sharp cross which they headed against the post as well but other than that they didn’t create too much. After 15 minutes they would have bitten our hands off for a draw.”
The point took the Rams back into the play-off places, however, results elsewhere mean a number of teams are clustered around the top six.
“It’s getting a little bit tighter than we would have liked behind us,” he commented. “Bristol City have got a game in hand so it’s going to go down to the wire.
“It’s a longer international break for us this time so once we are back, hopefully everyone is refreshed and fully fit and we can crack on for the last six or seven weeks of the season and extend the season by a couple of weeks.”
There is now a long break ahead of the game against Rotherham United at the end of March.
“We get to a certain point in the season and everyone is as fit as they are likely to be until the end of it,” the midfielder said.
“The rest is just as important as the training but the manager has given us a few days off. We will train, have a few days off and then we will train and prepare leading into the next game as normal.”