Phillip Cocu feels Derby County are moving in the right direction as they enter the second international break of the season.
Derby sit 13th in the Sky Bet Championship table, with 15 points to their name from11 matches, and are unbeaten in their last five outings.
The Rams went into the latest international break with a 2-0 home win over Luton Town on Saturday afternoon.
The positive feeling from the Rams’ boss is in stark a contrast to how his side entered the first international break of the campaign at the end of August.
They rounded off the first six games of the season with six points and went into the two-week break without a fixture off the back of a lacklustre performance and 3-0 loss at Brentford.
While Cocu knows there’s still plenty of room for improvement, he believes his side are in a different position compared to just over a month ago.
Their five games after returning to action saw the Rams pick up nine points from a possible 15 in the Championship.
However, Cocu says the break has come at a good time for his players and will utilise the time to get the right balance between work and rest.
He told RamsTV after the win over Luton: “I think we are now in a different position.
“Maybe you could have said ‘let’s play another game’ with the recent results we’ve had.
“But with all that is going on and with the injuries we have had, we’ve played some quite intense games.
“You saw at the end of the match against Luton that quite a few players were tired.
“It is good for us now to have a break, work hard in the start of the week and then lads can have a few days off in the second part of the week. They can then come back rested and fresh again.”
Cocu says those players who are not heading away on international duty will be given some time off to ensure they are feeling refreshed ahead of returning to action later this month.
Another international break will arrive in November, but after that point his squad won’t have another two-week gap between fixtures until next March.
“After the November break it is just ongoing in the games so that is why I plan the international break in a certain way so we can give three or four days off,” Cocu explained.
“That is because in December and January it is not possible.
“In this way the players can get a little bit more rest, get their minds off football and come back with new energy on the following Monday.”
Derby’s next Championship fixture is at Charlton Athletic on Saturday 19th October (3pm kick-off).