Derby County’s first game of the 2019/20 Sky Bet Championship season is just under a month away – and Graeme Shinnie is already counting down the days.
The 27-year-old completed the formalities of his move from Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen earlier this week.
Shinnie joined the Rams as a free agent after seeing out his contract with the Dons and reported for pre-season training earlier this week with the rest of the first-team squad.
The midfielder is set for his first taste of English football after playing all of his career to date north of the border.
Derby’s season will get underway on Monday 5th August in front of the Sky Sports cameras when they make the journey to Huddersfield Town following their relegation from the Premier League.
Shinnie is also keen to follow in the footsteps of Scotland international team-mates Kenny McLean and John McGinn in achieving success in the Championship, having sought their advice on playing in the division.
He told RamsTV: “It’s a game I’m looking forward to.
“Everyone in pre-season looks towards the first game of the season and tries to build their fitness and match sharpness up as much as they can, and your focus is on that first game of the season.
“The game at Huddersfield will be my first in England so that is exciting, and I’ve been told all about the Championship.
“There are a few players from Scotland who have come down and gone away with the national team such as Kenny McLean, who has just been promoted with Norwich City, and John McGinn at Aston Villa too.
“Speaking to those guys, it’s a very tough and demanding league which excites me.”
He added: “We’ve got lots of hard work to get through as a team but everyone is determined to give their all and make the most of the opportunity to impress.
“On a personal basis, I need to try and do my best to get into the team.”
Before the league campaign gets underway, Derby have five pre-season fixtures to play.
The latter of those will see Shinnie return to his homeland, with the Rams taking on Scottish giants Rangers in their final pre-season fixture at the end of July.
When asked about the trip to Ibrox, Shinnie joked: “I’m not very well liked up there, let’s put it that way!
“I had great games there when I played at Aberdeen. Last season, especially, we won two games at Ibrox and for the fans at Aberdeen, they are massive games.
“To win those, it’s big for the club up there. Rangers are a massive club and they will give it a good go to try and win the league this year so it will be good to go up against them.”
Shinnie penned a pre-contract agreement with the Rams towards the end of last season.
Knowing where he would be playing his football allowed him to quickly get settled in Derby.
The move has been a big one for Shinnie and his family in making the move from Scotland and he has stressed the importance of being settled off the pitch.
He explained: “It was the hardest part of trying to get the family to move down.
“I’ve got a four-year-old daughter and my wife is pregnant as well so to take them down here away from family and friends is tough, but my wife is very supportive of my career.
“She is from Inverness so we moved from there down to Aberdeen which was tough for her, but now moving down here, it will hopefully be a bit easier because she knows what to expect, albeit a lot further away.
“She understands the opportunity that I’ve got here.
“If your family is happy then it’s always easier for myself and in football. You need your family to be happy, but my wife is very supportive and wherever I go and she will be right behind me.”
He added: “This was a move that I was never going to turn down. It’s something that really excited me in my football career. It was all about sorting a house and sorting everything behind the scenes as much as I could to settle my family as much as I could.”