Tom Huddlestone felt there was plenty to be positive about after Derby County’s players got their first pre-season minutes under their belts on Wednesday night.


The Rams were 2-0 winners against USL side Sarasota Metropolis thanks to a second-half brace from striker Jack Marriott.

The match was played at the IMG Academy in Florida as part of Derby’s 10-day training camp in the United States.

Phillip Cocu was able to run the rule over his players in a game situation for the first time since his appointment last week.

He fielded two separate sides in each half, allowing 22 players to get 45 minutes each to step up preparations for the new season.

Huddlestone featured in the second half and felt the Rams quickly displayed signs that they were able to take the new manager’s ideas into a game situation.

Speaking to RamsTV after the final whistle, Huddlestone said:It was nice to get out there and play in a bit more of a competitive environment. We have had a few days training, but nothing matches getting out there on the pitch.

“The manager has fairly similar ideas to what we did last year, with a few tweaks here and there so it is good to go and try to implement them in a game situation. I thought both teams we put out there did that quite well in the game.

“A few of the training sessions have been a lot tougher than the match to be fair. Once you know you are only playing 45 minutes as well you can give it extra because you haven’t got to save anything for the latter stages of a normal game, so I thought that was a clever idea from the staff to give everyone 45 minutes.

“I think a lot of the philosophies we could start to see, especially getting up to the front-man and the runners in behind. With the coaching staff they do explain why we are doing certain training sessions and all the lads are buying into the ideas straight away and hopefully we can continue to implement them like we have started to do.

“I thought in the second half we could have been a little bit more clinical in front of goal, but I think defensively we limited them to a couple of shots. It was nice to get a feel of the ball and be able to put a bit of speed on the passes and wrap it into people and have confidence in their touches.”

Derby will take on fellow Sky Bet Championship rivals Bristol City at the IMG Academy on Saturday before returning home.

With games on UK soil against Burton Albion, Girona and Rangers on the horizon once they return from Florida, Huddlestone says it’s important that the Rams continue to move in the right direction.

He said: “We haven’t actually got long until the season starts so we know we need to get straight at it.

“We will probably have a decent training session again on Thursday, so the hard work doesn’t stop and the Bristol City game on Saturday will come around in no time.”

On the time spent in Florida, Huddlestone added: “We have done a lot of tough training, quite a bit in the gym and the facilities here are amazing.

“We have worked hard but the manager and fitness coaches haven’t pushed us to the point where people are struggling to train the next day or in the evening.

“A lot of the work is done and recorded on the GPS systems nowadays so they can see our loads and distance covered, so I think a lot of it is more science-based than it has been in previous years.”