The players know the importance and significance of picking up a positive result in Saturday’s game against Bristol City, according to manager Frank Lampard.
Derby moved into the play-off places on Easter Monday with a dramatic 2-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers, leapfrogging the Robins in the process.
One point separates the two sides heading into the crucial clash at Ashton Gate at the weekend and both know a victory will put them in a commanding position with only two games of the season remaining.
“I can explain that to the lads and I can show them the table and the permutations; I think we all know the importance of this game and where we are at,” Lampard told RamsTV.
“It is how personally I manage the feeling going into the game. I don’t want to overexpose them too early to getting pent up and almost tense about it. We need to play with an element of freedom to try and win the game.
“The lads know the story, they know the work they need to do and they should be excited about the opportunity that we are sitting in serious contention for a play-off place.
“It has been difficult this year because of the competition, because of circumstances here. With three games to go we have given ourselves a real chance so for me that should be all positive at the moment.”
The Rams go into the game knowing a victory will put them four points ahead of Lee Johnson’s side with only two games remaining, however, Lampard has admitted his side will not be treating this game differently to any others they have faced this season.
“We have to remain calm and not get over-excited with the fact we are in the top six in how we work and how we focus,” he said. “There is lots of work to be done. Fans can get excited, we need their support, I know they are traveling well to Bristol.
“We certainly appreciate that. In terms of how we prepare, it’s not much different. We are not silly, we know the importance of the game, but we have to prepare, we have to work, we have to be mentally ready, for not just this game, but the last three.”
Middlesbrough are another side in with a realistic shout of sixth-spot, however, they have played a game more than the Rams.
Derby are in sixth place and are in the driving seat heading into an important stage of the season.
“It’s a nice place to be, albeit we have a tough run in, but you could look at everybody’s run in and find that they are tough because of the nature of the Championship,” Lampard commented.
“With the young players that we have and the experienced players that have been here before is hopefully a nice balance.
The young players I don’t want them over-awed by it and if they can bring their youthful energy and innocence to the game where they just tackle it head on and show their ability with a bit of help from the players around them that have been here before.
“We know the position we are in, it is very clear because it is in our hands so let’s go.”