George Thorne is determined to give himself the best possible chance to 'hit the ground running' for the start of the season.
The midfielder re-joined the Rams' squad at the start of pre-season following a spell away on loan at Luton Town last season.
Minutes were hard to come by for Thorne at Luton, making three appearances after signing in the January transfer window, as they earned automatic promotion to the Sky Bet Championship as Champions.
However, the 26-year-old said he is fit, and with injuries that have held him back in the past, ready to grab the opportunity to impress ahead of the 2019/20 campaign.
“Everyone will see pre-season as a fresh start, but for me in particular for whatever reason, it didn’t quite work out for me last year,” Thorne told RamsTV.
“I am keen to impress, and it is a clean slate, so we will see what happens.
“Injuries have been frustrating in the past. I think sometimes it gets a bit misconstrued because last season for example, I was fit the whole year.
“They assume that because I am not involved that I might be injured or whatever the reason may be. I feel good physically but the only thing is, is I haven’t played a great deal of minutes over the last season or so.
“The main thing for me is to get myself up to speed, get as many minutes in as I can and give myself the best chance to hit the ground running when the season starts.”
Thorne got his first 45 minutes of game time on Wednesday evening, like the majority of the Rams who have travelled to Florida, as Cocu fielded two separate teams in the first pre-season fixture against Sarasota Metropolis.
Derby ran out 2-0 winners on the night thanks to a double from Jack Marriott.
The USL side, who formed in January of this year, provided a perfect starting point for Derby’s first of five pre-season fixtures, the midfielder believes.
While the Rams weren’t tested much defensively, it gave them the opportunity to put into practice what they have been working on over the past week with Cocu and his new staff.
“It was nice to get the first minutes out the way. It was tough because we have been doing quite intense days, double sessions and we had training before the game,” Thorne explained.
“It was the perfect opening game because they didn’t really come at us too badly, so it was a chance for everybody to get comfortable on the ball.
“The manager and the assistants have been trying to implement small details into what we already had last year, and I think all the boys were trying to take that into the game.
“There is a lot of work to do, but I thought we got off to quite a good start and I am sure as pre-season goes along there will be more details and stuff for us to take on board.”
He added: “The manager wants us to train how we play, he demands intensity, he demands work-rate in training and I think when the season comes I think we will reap the benefits of that going into the games.
“They are all very detailed in what they want, but they are very positive at the same time. If you look at their C.V.s, you look at what the manager has done as a player, you would be foolish not to pay attention to what he says.
“Every day is a learning day, all of the new staff that have come in have the same ideas, they are very detailed in what they want and it allows us to open our minds and see the game in a slightly different way.”