Phillip Cocu felt Derby County were unfortunate to taste defeat on Friday night as they returned to Sky Bet Championship action, following the October international break, with a 1-0 loss at home to Watford.

Joao Pedro's magnificent curling strike earned the visitors all three points with 14 minutes remaining under the Pride Park Stadium floodlights.

In a game of few clear chances, Derby almost drew level late on but skipper Wayne Rooney fired wide from inside the penalty area.

Cocu was pleased with his side’s performance against one of last season’s relegated Premier League sides and, while Derby have tasted four defeats from their opening five league games this term, the 49-year-old is convinced their fortunes will improve in the near future.

“I think we did well in the game, we created some chances to score but today we didn’t have the luck to score a goal,” Cocu told RamsTV after the final whistle.

“I think the players definitely deserved a point and, in my opinion, maybe even a win. I know it is difficult to say after a win, but I think today we played a great game with a great attitude.

“The players put everything they have got on the pitch and showed a pride to play for the team and the club and that is what we want to see.

“The fans cannot be in the stadium but for everybody watching we wanted to give the win but we couldn’t do it.

“The attitude and the spirit of the team and the way we played for most of the game is how we like to see it. We are going to put our heads together to keep this level of performance us and I think in the long run the results will be better.

“The lads are very disappointed because they worked so hard and they played a good game. If you play bad then you can look at each other and say we have to do better, but it is part of the game. It was a quality goal and a tight game, which we knew it would be.”

On Pedro’s goal for the visitors, Cocu added: “It was a great goal; a great strike. It is the individual quality of Watford. They are a tough team to beat and they have hardly conceded any goals It was a typical game from Watford, solid and one class moment that found the net.”

Derby return to Championship action with back-to-back away games next week at Huddersfield Town and Nottingham Forest.

First up is a trip to Huddersfield on Tuesday, before the Rams head across the East Midlands to take on local rivals Nottingham Forest at the City Ground next Friday.

Looking ahead to the next week, Cocu said: “We have big games coming up against Huddersfield and Forest, so we can’t sit down and be too disappointed.

“It is a hard one to take, but we showed the same face that we put on against Norwich and that is the way we have to continue playing.

“We want to show the same intensity, desire and pride we have to play for the club.”