Phillip Cocu has labelled Derby County’s home fixture against Preston North End this weekend as another ‘big challenge’ for his side.

Derby are back in Sky Bet Championship action following the third international break of the season at Pride Park Stadium on Saturday afternoon (3pm kick-off).

Preston will make the journey from Deepdale looking to build on their impressive start to the campaign.

Alex Neil’s side currently sit second in the Championship table following some eye-catching performances and results in the opening period of the season.

Derby, while sitting 16th in the table after a mixed beginning to the campaign for varying reasons, have won their last four home matches and are unbeaten in their last six outings at Pride Park.

Cocu believes the meeting with Preston represents an intriguing test for his side and he’s looking forward to seeing if his players can rise to the occasion.

Speaking to RamsTV, he said: “It’s a big challenge. Preston are doing excellent and performing well.

“I think they have won their last three games so they are a team with a lot of confidence. It will be interesting to see if we can stop them in this home game to get a win.

“It will be difficult because they are a good team, maybe not a team where you pick out one or two star players, and as a whole team they are very strong and that is their biggest asset.”

He added: “It will be a tough game but they will know also that we are a good squad and can be difficult to beat in our home stadium.”

While Derby have been in fine form on home turf, they have struggled on the road.

They have recorded one win and three draws from eight away matches so far, although their performances in recent weeks on their travels have warranted a better points return.

Therefore with a contrast between the home and away form, does Cocu believe games at Pride Park carry more pressure?

He answered: “I don’t think you have to see it as pressure.

“You have to enjoy playing and looking forward to playing home.

“From our next six games and we play four at home and that is a great feeling to be able to play at Pride Park with the fans and know your opponent will come and be aware that it will be a difficult game for them.

“We have to see it as a positive that we can play another game at home.”