Wayne Rooney says everyone in the Derby County camp is aware of the importance of Friday night’s local derby clash with Nottingham Forest (7:45pm kick-off).
The East Midlands derby is always an occasion to relish, either at Pride Park Stadium or the City Ground, but unfortunately one special ingredient will again be missing for the latest meeting between the clubs.
Supporters are still unable to attend matches under COVID-19 restrictions and Friday’s match will be the third successive fixture between Derby and Forest that has been played behind-closed-doors.
The previous two encounters, at the end of last season at Pride Park and in the early stages of the current campaign at the City Ground, have finished in 1-1 draws.
Rooney, who took over as Derby’s manager on a permanent basis in January, has overseen an upturn in form under his leadership and has guided the side to six wins from their last eight Sky Bet Championship matches.
Although the Rams’ faithful cannot be in attendance to cheer on the side once again, the 35-year-old knows how important the fixture is for those watching on at home.
“Each derby I have played in is different but the one thing that remains is what is at stake for the fans,” Rooney told RamsTV.
“In a local derby there are bragging rights at stake and for us we must realise, and for players who have not played in this fixture or are from different countries have to realise quickly, that it is a very important game to everyone in the city.
“It is a game where we have to make sure we aren’t too emotional.
“Sometimes the team who shows their emotions in these games tend to get a player sent off or make the wrong decisions and ultimately end up losing the game.”
Derby and Forest go into Friday’s game in good form.
Tuesday night’s 2-0 home win over Huddersfield Town, secured thanks to goals from George Edmundson and Martyn Waghorn, was the Rams’ fourth in a row on home turf.
Chris Hughton, meanwhile, has made the Reds a hard side to beat, losing two of their last 14 matches in the league.
The experienced manager took over at the City Ground earlier in the season and has guided them up the league table after, like Derby, starting the campaign in disappointing fashion.
Rooney is aware of the threat Forest will pose and said: “I think it will be a very tight game.
“Both teams have been in very good form and it is a local derby, so a lot is at stake.
“We will be ready to put a good performance in and I believe if we do what we are asking and play the way we can I think we will have a great chance of getting three points.”