On-loan defender Matt Clarke says Derby County will need to continue their impressive run of form as big games keep coming for Phillip Cocu’s side.

Just five matches remain in the regular 2019/20 Sky Bet Championship season and Derby’s fine form in the second half of the season has propelled them into the play-off race.

A slow start to the season, for various reasons, saw the Rams sitting in mid-table at the halfway stage of the campaign.

The second half of the season, however, has seen consistent results and performances from Cocu’s side on the pitch.

In fact, since the halfway stage, Derby have been one of the Championship’s form teams.

From their 18 matches in the second half of the campaign, Derby have picked up ten wins and five draws in the league.

Derby’s final five games provide some big tests and, in particular, against automatic promotion hopefuls Leeds United, West Bromwich Albion and Brentford and play-off contenders Cardiff City.

First up is a midweek trip to the Hawthorns to face West Brom on Wednesday (5pm kick-off) and Clarke says everyone in the Derby camp in fired up to maintain their high standards.

“There are plenty of tough games coming up,” Clarke told RamsTV.

“For us, it’s just about preparing as best as we can for the next game and take them as they come.

“You don’t want to give up any ground at this point of the season. We have done really well to get ourselves in this position and we don’t want it to come to nothing if our form tails off and if results don’t go our way.

“It’s up to us to take the game to teams and pick up points, which we have been doing since the restart and in the games before then.”

Football was suspended in March for three months due the COVID-19 out break but matches resumed in mid-June behind-closed-doors.

A demanding fixture schedule is in place, with four successive midweek fixtures alongside weekend matches, in order to complete the league campaign inside a month of the restart.

Clarke says it is a testing time for players but also one where their preparation and recovery must be spot on.

“It’s a very demanding time,” he said.

“During these periods, the training which you can do is very minimal for the lads who are playing the majority of the games.

“It’s almost like you play a game, chalk it off, evaluate it and move on to the next one.

“There isn’t a lot of time to put a lot of miles in on the training ground and do much training, you have to just rest up, recover and make sure you’re right for when the games come.”