Phillip Cocu says his Derby County must ‘push ourselves to the limit’ to get a result in Friday night’s local derby encounter at Nottingham Forest (7:45pm kick-off).
The first East Midlands derby of the campaign will see the Rams travel across Brian Clough Way to take on Chris Hughton’s side at the City Ground.
Cocu says the Derby players and staff are fully aware of the importance of the game, despite COVID-19 rules stating that matches must be played behind closed doors at this time.
The Dutchman admits his side have started the season slowly, picking up one win from their opening six matches, but admits a positive result against Forest would provide a welcome boost to his squad.
Speaking to RamsTV, Cocu said: “Immediately after the game on Tuesday all the eyes were already on Friday.
“The players know what it means for the club and the fans. There is no doubt that everybody will absolutely be at the top of their game on Friday.
“We always miss the fans and especially for these kinds of matches. We play to win games and to get the support from the fans during them is important. We have loyal fans both at home and away on the road that support us.
“It is completely different if you experience the games we play now with no fans. In those big matches without fans, it is a pity we must do it.
“I think that the players have shown, especially in the last few games, that they are going all the way for the club and the team. That is the way we want to see it and the players will do everything in their power to give the fans something to cheer about on Friday.
“A win would be a big boost for the team. We have to push ourselves to the limit to get the result and that is the only way forward for us - to believe in the team and try to get a win against Forest.”
Cocu added: “I understand, like for us, it is frustrating for the fans how we have started the season.
“We work hard every day, but we have to keep faith in each other, have the confidence and hopefully the fans continue to support us in every way possible.”
Derby have had little time to prepare on the training ground for their latest fixture, having been in action on Tuesday night at Huddersfield.
Cocu says his squad are raring to go and looking forward to the challenge of a local derby fixture.
He said: “It is a quick turnover with the games coming quickly; Wednesday was a recovery day and then on Thursday we worked on the game plan with tactics and low intensity training.
“That was to try and save all of the energy for an important game - and a big one - against Forest coming up.
“The players can’t wait to go out there again and we will continue the way we present ourselves, with the right attitude, to try and get a good result.”