Big games are something Derby County midfielder Graeme Shinnie has become accustomed to over his years of being a professional footballer.
The 27-year-old, who joined the club in the 2019 summer transfer window from Aberdeen, has featured in some of the biggest games in Scottish football in recent years.
Trips to Celtic and Rangers, cup semi-finals, cup finals. You name it, the midfielder has experienced it and he has thrived on the biggest occasion.
This time, Shinnie faces a different battle.
It’s the second East Midlands derby of the season – the first in the league – and the Rams will be hoping for a better result this time around.
They were beaten 3-0 at the City Ground in the Carabao Cup Second Round tie but head into the game on Saturday off the back of a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough at Pride Park Stadium last time out..
Shinnie played in the cup tie back in August and is hoping for a more positive result this time around.
“It was nice to play in and experience it,” Shinnie said, speaking to RamsTV ahead of the game. “I hadn’t been playing at the time so it was another game to try and impress the manager.
“On the night it was always going to be tough. We made changes in the cup with some of the young players playing in the derby for the first time so it was always going to be a challenge.
“We didn’t play as well as we can and I think this Saturday will be a lot different going into the game coming off the back of a win. The atmosphere will be similar but hopefully the result will be different.
“The atmosphere was really good and it’s games that you want to be involved and play in. We want the result to be the other way this time.
“It’s bragging rights for the supporters and we are going
there on the back of a good result. In derby games, sometimes it doesn’t matter
about form, it matters about how you do on the day and how you handle the occasion
and the whole squad are looking forward to it.”
The last player to score at the City Ground in a Derby County win was a fellow Scottish midfielder.
Craig Bryson, who now plies his trade at Scottish Premier League side Aberdeen, scored the winner for the Rams in a 1-0 win back in September 2012.
Seven games have been played at the City Ground since that day, but the Rams have struggled to get the better of their near neighbours and it’s something Shinnie is determined to change this weekend.
“If I can emulate what he [Bryson] did and score a hat trick, I would enjoy that,” he commented. “Winning the game is the best thing for me.
“It doesn’t matter who scores the goals or scores the winner, if we can win the game as a team then it would be perfect.”