Phillip Cocu says there’s plenty of hard work ahead as Derby County prepare to get their 2019/20 season underway in exactly three weeks’ time.
Derby’s players arrived back in the UK this morning following the conclusion of their ten-day training camp in Florida.
The Rams took in friendly matches against USL side Sarasota Metropolis and fellow Sky Bet Championship rivals Bristol City, as well as several training sessions in the soaring heat.
The time away gave Cocu, who was appointed as the Rams’ new manager on the same day the side touched down in the United States, and his staff the chance to get to know his players on and off the pitch.
Now though, having had time to become acquainted with the squad and vice-versa, Cocu believes the next three weeks will be crucial ahead of the season-opener at Huddersfield Town on Monday 5th August.
“The most important thing for me as the manager was to spend ten days with the players,” he explained to RamsTV when reviewing the training camp in Florida.
“We have got to know each other on and off the pitch and have had some talks.
“We have worked together with the rest of the staff, so it was a really important part of the pre-season.
“I like that we were together. We had a lot of sessions and that was very good.
“Now we continue to work hard in Derby and these next weeks are important because when the games start the time to train is less, with the focus being on those matches.”
He added: “The next few weeks will be tough for the team and the last game, at Rangers, will of course be the preparation for the first game.
“The other two games, we will also have training sessions before. We have to find the right balance in all the work and tactics we put in the team.”
Derby’s squad will continue their preparations for the new season throughout this week in training before taking on Sky Bet League 1 side Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium on Saturday afternoon (3pm kick-off).