Andre Wisdom was understandably delighted to make his first start in almost nine months as Derby County were held to a 1-1 draw with Queens Park Rangers at Pride Park Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The 26-year-old defender missed the latter stages of last season, and beginning of the current campaign, due to a knee injury.
However, after brief cameo appearances off the bench in the recent home victories over Luton Town and Preston North End, he was handed his maiden start of the campaign by Phillip Cocu against the R’s.
Wisdom played the full 90 minutes and impressed with a typically dependable display in defence.
Derby took the lead midway through the first half as Martyn Waghorn fired home a free-kick from the edge of the box, before Ebere Eze equalised on the stroke of half-time from the penalty spot.
Speaking to RamsTV after the game, Wisdom said: “It felt good to be back out there after a long time.
“It’s been a bit difficult so far this season for me. I’ve had some off the field issues, coming back from injuries and had a few little knock backs, but it was nice to be back playing.
“I have been training really hard, trying to get my mind and body right and I’m glad that the gaffer gave me my first start of the season today.”
Looking back on the game, the former Liverpool defender added: “Games like today are mentally tough and they are a direct team and mix the game up well. We knew their qualities but I think we dealt with it well so it’s a shame we gave away the penalty.
“We found it difficult in the first half in certain situations with their style of play, but I think we adapted well. It’s just a small details which pretty much cost us the game and saw us leaving with a draw.”
Wisdom hopes to be given further chances to impress by Cocu in the weeks and months ahead.
The former England Under-21 international defender says he will continue to give his all in training and match situations as he looks to establish himself as a regular in the Rams’ backline.
He said: “I’m straight up, straight down; I train hard and hope to be rewarded.
“If your mind is right and the manager believes in you, you just have to work hard. If I’m playing, I will always give 100%.
“Some days you will have good days, some days you will have bad days but I will always give my all. It’s a great job. I’m happy to be in a position that I’m in and I will always give my all.
“There is a lot of games coming up and there is a lot of competition in the team. Everyone has got a reason to knock on the manager’s door and ask ‘why am I not playing?’ but all you have to do is train hard.”
He added: “Some days you are going to be off it, but when you are given an opportunity, you have to take it on the chin.”
Wisdom, who had a loan spell with Derby during the 2013/14 season from Liverpool before joining permanently in the summer of 2017, has made 88 appearances in total for the Rams.