Martyn Waghorn believes Derby County’s hard work on the training ground under manager Wayne Rooney is beginning to pay off.
Derby have enjoyed a positive run of form under Rooney since he took over the reins, initially on a temporary basis before being handed the job permanently in mid-January.
The 35-year-old has overseen the Rams’ steady rise up the Sky Bet Championship table and they have picked up five wins from their last six outings to move six points away from the bottom three.
Waghorn, who is approaching the end of his third season with the club, believes Derby’s players are benefitting from Rooney’s high-intensity training.
They have also proved to be more solid from a defensive aspect, as well as beginning to add more goals to their game.
Back-to-back 2-1 victories over Middlesbrough and Wycombe Wanderers this week have set the Rams up well for Friday night’s fixture at Watford (7:45pm kick-off).
“We have shown the aggression and the determination not to lose games,” Waghorn told RamsTV ahead of the Watford game. “The manager has wanted us to train a lot more intensity, that has shown in how we are playing and we are a lot more resilient I think.
“It is just a mindset thing when you go into games knowing you are not going to give the opposition easy goals or concede stupid goals, which we were capable of at the start of the season.
“On the flip side, I think we have got to start realising we are a good team going forward. We have presence in the box, we have Lee Gregory now, Colin Kazim-Richards and myself and with Patrick coming in we are a lot more dangerous in wider situations.
“We have to build on what we are creating at the back and the determination with that to go and score more goals and make games a lot easier for ourselves.”
Looking ahead to the Watford game, he added: “They are a very good side with a lot of quality.
“We will have to be fully focused, fully aware of the challenge ahead and hopefully we can go there and put on a good test and come away with a positive result.”
Waghorn’s set-play deliveries have proved to be vital for Derby in the last two matches.
Two goals have come from the forward’s corners, while Andre Wisdom’s winner at Wycombe came from Waghorn hitting the post from a free-kick.
He said: “The set plays in the last few weeks have been a crucial part of our game and we work on them quite a lot.
“Shay Given (First Team Coach) does a lot of work on them behind the scenes and started implementing them on training days and thankfully the last couple of games they have paid off.
“I’m taking it that Shay goes home and watches YouTube for six hours every night trying to figure out set plays from 1995 when he started playing!
“As players we just turn up, try to put the ball in the right area and stick the ball in the back of the net but I know there is a lot more work that goes into that with timing and how to prepare it. A lot of credit goes to the staff for that.”