Matt Clarke believes Derby County’s ‘fitness and good character’ have been two of the reasons behind the side’s ability to strike late in games.

Striker Chris Martin scored an injury-time equaliser in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest on Saturday to earn the Rams a point.

It was not the first time that Phillip Cocu’s side have struck late on in a game, having netted a number of winners and equalisers towards the conclusion of matches during the campaign.

Clarke, on loan from Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion for the 2019/20 campaign, says those late goals show a lot about the characteristics within the squad.

The centre-back felt Martin’s equaliser, which came in the seventh minute of added on time, was deserved as Derby extended their unbeaten run to six matches in the Sky Bet Championship.

With five wins and a draw to their name from those six fixtures, Derby sit three points outside the play-off spots with five games remaining.

Next up for the Rams is a trip across the Midlands to take on automatic promotion chasing West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns on Wednesday afternoon (5pm kick-off)

“It shows that we have got good fitness and good character to keep going until the end,” Clarke told RamsTV ahead of Derby's clash with West Brom.

“We keep believing in what we are doing and keep believing that if we do that then we will get something. There is always a chance in whatever minute of the game it is.

“I thought it ended up being a deserved point on Saturday. Towards the end of the game, we were pushing. They had a few chances on the counter but I think overall we deserved something out of it."

He added: “There’s a unity and a good way we are going about the games.

“When you watch us, you can see that there is a clear belief and understanding on the way we are going about it and that’s put us in good stead since the restart.

“We would like to put games to bed a bit more and on Saturday, you don’t want to be losing in the 95th minute, but I think there is a good understanding in the group.”

After a three-month break due to the COVID-19 outbreak, football resumed in mid-June.

As part of the UK Government and EFL’s guidelines, matches must be played behind-closed-doors at this time.

Clarke says playing before empty stadiums is a different experience, but it is one players across the country have had to adapt to quickly.

“It is a little bit different,” Clarke admitted.

“I think the build-up to matches is different when you’re coming to the stadium and there is no traffic or fans outside.

“It’s a bit quieter and subdued but for me personally, once the whistle goes and the game starts, you are in that bubble and in game mode so it doesn’t make too much difference in that respect.”

Clarke has made 32 appearances in all competitions for Derby just the season, scoring once in the 1-0 home win over Hull City in January.