Martyn Waghorn admits playing before empty stadiums is going to be a whole new experience when Derby County’s Sky Bet Championship campaign resumes this weekend.
After a three-month suspension of the season due the COVID-19 pandemic, matches in the Championship will resume in the coming days behind-closed-doors.
Derby will return to action, with nine games remaining in their league season, with a trip south to take on Millwall on Saturday 20th June (1pm kick-off).
Waghorn, who is the Rams’ leading goalscorer this season with 12 goals, says everyone in the squad is raring to return to competitive action once again.
The frontman accepts it will be a new experience with supporters unable to attend in person and believes the self-motivation of players will be vital on matchdays.
Speaking to RamsTV, Waghorn said: “It’s been a long break (Derby last played in early March) but we’re all raring to go and know what’s at stake.
“We are looking forward to being back playing games, which is what everyone loves doing, and hopefully we can get all three points.
“With no fans at the grounds we know the intensity of the crowd isn’t going to be there or anything like what we are used to.”
The 30-year-old added: “It has been interesting to hear how we communicate as the game is going on as you can hear yourselves and the staff more clearly. It has been a learning curve.
“It will be difficult stepping out onto the pitch with no-one there; you live for the buzz you get from the crowd and the adrenaline.
“It’s going to be down to self-motivation and preparation to make sure you’re ready to play.”
Waghorn, who has spoken publicly of his mental health challenges in the past during the season, knows only too well the COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone.
Following UK guidelines towards the end of March, the United Kingdom entered a lengthy period during which time people were required to remain at home and only go out once a day to exercise.
Gradually, restrictions have been eased and Derby’s players were able to return to training under the EFL’s Return to Training protocols towards the end of May.
Waghorn explained: “It was difficult at first to deal with not leading a normal day-to-day-life and by that I mean everyone across the country and the world really. It was hard to switch off personally, going from playing games and training daily to very little.
“There are always spells when you don’t play due to injury or the off-season, but you’re always in and around it or working towards a target.”
Speaking about Derby’s return to training, he said: “It was a relief more than anything. At the start we were working as small groups and as we’ve been able to step it up, we haven’t looked back really.
“Everyone has been in great shape and from a medical point of view we have been prepared before, during and afternoon sessions.”
Don’t forget you can see Derby
County return to action at Millwall LIVE on RamsTV from
12:30pm on Saturday afternoon. Sign up to RamsTV and purchase your
streaming pass here: dcfc.co.uk/page/ramstv.