Midfielder Tom Huddlestone was pleased to once again grace the Pride Park Stadium playing surface at yesterday’s Open Training Session.
Over 1,000 Rams supporters attended the event which saw the players put through their paces by new manager Phillip Cocu and his staff.
There were a number of passing and shooting drills for supporters to see, whilst the players stayed behind to sign autographs and pose for pictures with those in attendance.
One man who enjoyed the session was Huddlestone, who used it as a learning experience.
“It was nice to get some more minutes at Pride Park and get used to the surface before the start of the season,” he told RamsTV.
“There were quite a few fans turned out, mainly young kids, so it’s good for them to experience behind the scenes of football life.
“During pre-season you are playing and training all over the country, or all over the world in our case this summer, so it’s nice just to get used to the surface again and also the length of it and the diameters of the pitch because most pitches are different. It is a benefit, definitely.”
With a 10-day trip to Florida and further pre-season fixtures under his belt, the midfielder believes he is in good shape heading into the opening fixture of the season against Huddersfield Town.
“It’s another pre-season ticked off,” he said. “I felt good this pre-season. I think it helped not having so long off in the summer.
“We had four weeks this year whereas a lot of other Championship clubs would have had eight weeks so I think that helps getting back into the rhythm of things sooner rather than later.
“Lesser time off is not a bad thing when you get to a certain age and there is a few aches and pains in the morning.”
With only five days remaining until Derby's trip to the John Smith’s Stadium to take on Huddersfield Town next Monday, they head into the season optimistic they can go one better than the 2018/19 campaign after reaching the Play-Off Final last term.
However, Huddlestone knows it won’t be as easy as that.
“Our target, like 15 or so clubs in the Championship, is to finish in the top six come the end of the season,” he commented.
“We know with the money in the game now, the three teams who have come down will have a bit of an advantage with signing players and being able to pay certain wages to keep players from the Premier League campaign.
“As I said, it will be us and another dozen clubs that are confident can finish in the top six.”