Phillip Cocu says everyone in the Derby County camp is looking forward to returning to competitive action this weekend.
Following the second international break of the season, Derby’s Sky Bet Championship programme resumes with a visit to Charlton Athletic on Saturday afternoon (3pm kick-off).
Cocu’s side went into the two-week gap without a fixture off the back of a five-game unbeaten run.
The matches provided a return of nine points from a possible 15, including back-to-back home successes against Birmingham City and Luton Town.
Derby’s run of form was timely to help them climb the table after a slow start to the campaign.
And they now have the perfect opportunity to get more points on the board with a three-game week welcoming them back into action.
The long trip to Charlton will be backed up with a home fixture under the Pride Park Stadium floodlights against Wigan Athletic next Wednesday and a trip to Hull City next Saturday to round off the month.
Cocu has challenged his players to maintain their standards and continue the good work which he has seen on the training ground and in matches.
“It is a much better feeling and it shows to the team that hard work pays off,” Cocu explained to RamsTV when discussing the side’s unbeaten run.
“The players have really stepped up in the training sessions and we have seen better results too.
“The atmosphere in the team is progressing and confidence will be higher with results, so that is good.
“Our recent run is in the past already, we have to do it again in the next games coming up. We have to continue more in the way we played.
“We showed some good stuff in the games and we have to continue with the same intensity and focus, especially on the set-pieces.
“We have worked a lot and we have to continue to work and keep dominating when we have the ball.”
He added: “In the next couple of games, we will face all kinds of styles and football systems and we have to be capable of dealing with it.”
Charlton have made a solid start to the campaign after gaining promotion back to the second tier in May.
They defeated Sunderland in the League 1 Play-Off Final and Lee Bowyer’s side sit in tenth spot ahead of Saturday’s game.
Cocu is expecting a difficult encounter at The Valley, where the Addicks have already overcome high-flyers Leeds United in the early stages of the campaign.
He said: “I think they have made an excellent start.
“They have had good results and Charlton is a good team. They press aggressively, they are fast in transition and are a high energy team that doesn’t give you a lot of time to play.
“It will be a difficult game, but we have to have confidence in our qualities as well and if we can play like we did in the last couple of games I think we can have the confidence to have a good result.”
Derby will be backed by a large away following in the capital.
Over 2,900 tickets have already been snapped up and Cocu has highlighted the importance of the Rams’ travelling faithful.
On Derby’s following of around 3,000 fans, he said: “It is something we are looking forward to seeing.
“Always, our fans travel a long way to support us and it is an extra motivation for us as a team to give everything for the club and the fans who travelled. It is a good feeling when they support us.”