Midfielder Graeme Shinnie believes Derby County are progressing in the right direction in the lead-up to the 2020/21 season.
Derby’s squad reported back for pre-season training following a two-and-a-half week break at the end of the 2019/20 season.
Phillip Cocu’s side have three friendlies under their belts already, after facing League 1 outfits Peterborough United and Doncaster Rovers and last season’s beaten Championship Play-Off Finalists Brentford.
Derby conclude their preparations for the upcoming campaign against Premier League side Sheffield United at Pride Park Stadium next week (1st September, 5pm kick-off).
Shinnie, who turned 29 earlier this month, is preparing for his second season in a Derby shirt, after making 27 appearances last term following his arrival from Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen.
And the experienced midfielder says the Rams’ workload since returning to training at Moor Farm has resulted in a tough pre-season so far.
“With every game that passes by, it’s more fitness and sharpness in the legs,” Shinnie said in an interview with RamsTV.
“We’ve had three matches so far and it’s a slow progression towards the start of the season.
“Pre-season itself has been one of the toughest I’ve had in a while to be honest.
“While I was at Aberdeen, we’d have a few weeks off at the end of the season and then be back in for the European qualifiers a few weeks later.
“As a result of that, it was a case of pretty much going straight into the matches.
“It has been good here to have the week we came back to get the running into the legs, that pre-season feeling, before moving into the games.”
Of Shinnie’s 27 appearances for Derby last term, 15 were starts and he found the back of the net on two occasions.