Assistant Manager Chris van der Weerden believes it is important that Derby County have the right balance in their squad over the course of the upcoming 2020/21 season.

Derby are just under a week away from getting the new campaign underway following a shorter than usual break between seasons because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Carabao Cup First Round tie at home to EFL newcomers Barrow AFC will get the campaign underway on Saturday 5th September (12pm kick-off), followed by the Sky Bet Championship curtain raiser against Reading at Pride Park Stadium a week later.

In the short break between last season and the upcoming campaign, Derby’s squad already has a different look and feel.

Alongside a few departures, manager Phillip Cocu has strengthened his squad with the additions of goalkeeper David Marshall and defender Mike te Wierik.

Marshall, 35, is a vastly experienced shot-stopper and has recorded more than 500 games in club football – while Dutch defender te Wierik is 28 and racked up almost 200 Eredivisie appearances in his homeland.

In addition, 23-year-old Brighton & Hove Albion defender Matthew Clarke has agreed to spend a second successive season on loan with the Rams after a successful spell during the 2019/20 season.

Their additions are set to blend in nicely alongside impressive teenagers Jayden Bogle, Max Bird, Louie Sibley, Jason Knight, Morgan Whittaker and Lee Buchanan.

The Academy graduates all impressed during the 2019/20 season as the Rams achieved a 10th place finish in the Championship table.

Van der Weerden, manager Phillip Cocu’s right-hand man, says the staff are working hard to ensure the Rams have a well-balanced squad.

Speaking to RamsTV, he said: “If you want to be a team that is part of the play-offs, which we do, the balance of the team is very important.

“You can have guys that are aged from 17-21, because they are talented guys, but you also need a few players who are something like 26, 27 and 28 and at their best. That gives a good balance in the group.

“Then, of course, you have players who are 33, 34 or 35 and have more experience. They can help the young players and the balance for the group, this year, is very important.”

Derby’s players have been back in pre-season training ahead of the new season since early August.

The 2019/20 campaign came to an end towards the closing stages of July and, as a result, the Rams’ players only had a two-week break before reporting back to prepare for the upcoming campaign.

Van der Weerden says, as a result, preparations have been different to a traditional pre-season - but says the Rams’ staff and players have adapted to the situation well.

“Our preparations have been a bit different, because normally you have six weeks off and the players have a programme to start up,” he said.

“In total, the players had two-and-a-half weeks off. After a week, the players had a programme to follow which includes some runs and core stability work.

“Normally as well we would be away at a training camp that you organise. This year, we can’t do that. It is strange, but it is no problem and we get ready for the season training here.”

He added: “We know there are some tactical things we can change and improve, but also the physical parts too. We know where we want to go.”