Striker Colin Kazim-Richards believes the Derby County squad possesses a lot of fight as they aim to move clear of the relegation places this weekend as they travel to the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium to face Queens Park Rangers (3pm kick off).
The Rams picked up a valuable three points on Tuesday night as they beat AFC Bournemouth at Pride Park Stadium.
Krystian Bielik scored the only goal for Derby in a 1-0 victory to hand them their second home win of the season.
It came on the back of a frustrating 1-0 defeat against Rotherham United at the weekend which manager Wayne Rooney admitted wasn’t good enough from his side.
But Kazim-Richards, who has made a telling impact since his arrival into the starting line-up in November both on and off the pitch, believes the Rams are up for the challenge as they face a tough trip to the capital this weekend.
A win could move Derby further away from danger and the experienced striker believes there is a lot of quality, as well as desire, in the dressing room.
“The reaction and character that we showed on Tuesday with the energy and how we went about doing our individual jobs collectively gave us a massive win,” he told RamsTV. “I think that’s what was more important than the actual win.
“Obviously, we needed the three points. But actually for improving for the next games, the way we went about that win was quality. It was a proud moment, to be honest.
“Now we just have to build on it and not forget how we went about that and try and implement it in every game.
“Last Saturday and Sunday, I was unbearable at home after the defeat. My wife would probably tell you if there wasn’t this lockdown she would have probably told me to try and get out!
“There is the frustration with that, but I think there were a lot of things that accumulated to that. They are not excuses, at all, because I don’t make them. We are trying to identify reasons, but all we could have done and what we needed to do was go and put that right.
“What we have to do is learn from that as well. I am a big believer that you learn more from your mistakes and as long as we always have that in the back of our minds then we should be alright.
“Every game is not going to be against a side at the top. Some games are going to be tough, rolling around in mud and scrapping for wins.
“We can play as well, but now we have that nastiness and that bit of grit about us where teams know we can do both ways; we can fight and we can also play. I think we, ourselves, need to remember that and on Tuesday night we definitely did.”
As well as fighters in the squad, Kazim-Richards believes there is a good balance amongst the players.
Several young Academy stars have cemented their place firmly in the first team environment. Jason Knight has been selected as captain on the last two occasions, whilst Lee Buchanan has performed admirably at left back. Max Bird, Louie Sibley and Morgan Whittaker have all been involved in the matchday squads, too.
And Kazim-Richards believes they, along with the experienced players, have all the tools to be successful for the football club, especially with the coaching team in place.
“There are a lot of young guys in it, but I remember I made my debut at 17 and was playing regularly by 18, 19, 20,” he said. “To be honest, the young men – that is what I call them – they have got a lot in their favour and a lot of guys with experience in that dressing room and now you have got the best ever English player to grace the pitch, Wayne Rooney, as your manager.
“Then you have Liam Rosenior who has played loads of games at a high level as well, the Republic of Ireland’s best ever number one as a coach in Shay Given and also Justin Walker who has got a lot of knowledge and he is very good with the young guys as well.
“They have got a very good support core to be able to give them some confidence and preparation, but ultimately, they have to believe in themselves. I know they are young, but for me age is just a number; if you are ready, you are ready.
“That’s whether you are young, or people look at me and say: ‘oh, well he’s 34’, I believe if you are good enough, you are ready. The coaches, as you can see since they have come in, they have played how many young guys?
“At times you have to try and coach them, but once they are on that pitch we are all level. There is no difference between me and Knighty or me and Kaide Gordon. Once we cross onto that pitch we are all on a level playing field, we are all going through the same objective.
“For them it is very good that they have some very experienced players, even they have young experience too. Andre Wisdom is only 27, but he has crazy experience and guys like Graeme Shinnie have experience too.
“There is a lot of experience gelled in with a lot of youth. Right now, we need to focus on this situation that we are in, but for the future when we get ourselves out of this rubbish we have got a good set up to get Derby back into the situations that they really deserve and want to be in.”