Phillip Cocu labelled Derby County’s 1-0 victory at Preston North End on Wednesday afternoon as another vital one for his side.

Derby claimed all three points at Deepdale against Preston thanks to skipper Wayne Rooney’s sublime first-half free-kick.

The victory was the Rams’ fifth in a row in the Sky Bet Championship as they climbed up to seventh place in the table with six games remaining in the season.

Cocu was keen to dedicate the win to not only Derby’ absent fans, with games currently played behind-closed-doors due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but also injured defender Andre Wisdom.

Wisdom was not involved at Deepdale after he was the victim of an unprovoked assault and robbery at the weekend.

He sustained injuries which resulted in him being admitted to hospital and while he is now at home and recovering, he was able to visit his team-mates at their pre-match meal in a hotel in Lancashire.

“I think it was not an easy win today,” Cocu told RamsTV after the final whistle.

“We had the same amount of points and position in the league ahead of kick-off, so we expected a tough game and it was.

“It was a great goal from Wayne Rooney, a great free-kick, that gave us the win.

“At the end of the game we really had to pull everyone together to get the win.

“Like in all the other games, all the players that came on put their best in for the team and myself.”

He added: “All the players and staff are happy that we could give this win to our fans who will enjoy it hopefully, but also for Andre Wisdom who we saw today just before we travelled here for a short visit.

“It was a big shock what happened to him and we were really pleased to see him so this win from the lads was for Andre.”

Cocu admits it isn’t clear at this stage when Wisdom, who has been impressive form since returning to the first-team fold after an early-season knee injury, in November.

The Derby boss says it is important to give the former England Under-21 international the sufficient time to recover both mentally and physically from the ordeal.

He said: “I don’t know when he will be back. I told him today to just try to recover and when he feels strong enough or good to come back then to give us a shout and he is always welcome to return, but I think with what happened maybe he needs some time.

“It was a huge shock for everybody. He is a very positive guy and a very important guy in our team. Everybody was really affected by the incident and we were extremely pleased to see him today just after our pre-game meal. That was very positive. “

Derby’s fifth league win in a row, and their third since the return to action following the three-month suspension of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has propelled them up the table.

They are now just a point aside the top six but Cocu is refusing to get carried away, particularly with the Rams facing five teams in the promotion race during their final six matches.

Cocu said: “That is why it is a big challenge.

“They are really strong teams and you don’t get any easy wins, especially not teams above us in the play-off positions or fighting for automatic promotion.

“It is also an opportunity for us so hopefully we can continue the development within the squad that we are also capable of getting results against the big teams in the league. That is something we will push for.”

He added: “We know it is hard, but we will give is a go. The atmosphere in the team is great and it is really a joy to work with the squad every day.”

Derby’s next fixture is on Saturday afternoon against East Midlands neighbours Nottingham Forest at Pride Park Stadium (12:30pm kick-off).