Wayne Rooney has stressed that Derby County must not rest on their laurels when they take on promotion-chasing Watford on Friday night (7:45pm kick-off).
Derby will make the journey down the M1 to take on the Hornets off the back of a run of five wins from their last six Sky Bet Championship games.
Those results, including successive 2-1 victories over Middlesbrough and Wycombe Wanderers in the last week, have moved Derby away from the division’s bottom three after a poor start to the season prior to his appointment.
Rooney has stressed that his players cannot be complacent and particularly ahead of a trip to Vicarage Road against a side gunning for automatic promotion to the Premier League.
“We can’t become complacent,” Rooney told RamsTV. “We are doing well picking up points, but we need to kick on and keep picking up more points. If there is one thing I can guarantee, it is that the players will not get complacent under me.
“I keep saying I demand a lot from the lads and I know they can give more. It is my job to push them to make sure they get to the levels I feel they can reach.”
Watford have also recorded back-to-back wins over the course of the last seven days, including a 6-0 trouncing of Bristol City on home turf last weekend.
Rooney knows the threats the Hornets pose, but believes his side are capable of getting a result having enjoyed a good run of results against the division’s top sides this term.
“It will be a tough game,” he said. “Watford are doing well; they are a good team with good players so it is a game which we have to go in to feeling confident.
“We are in good form and we know tactically it will be a very different game than the last two. We haven’t had much time to prepare on that, but we will be ready for the challenge and I believe if we play the way I know we can do then we will have a chance.”
Derby left it late to win at Wycombe on Tuesday as Andre Wisdom netted in injury time at Adams Park.
Rooney was not happy with his side’s performance and made it clear afterwards that he expects better, although he was keen to stress the spirit and togetherness of his side is pleasing to see.
“The one thing I never questioned after the game is the team spirit and togetherness of all the lads, not just the lads starting but players coming into the team too,” he said. “I think the big thing for me now is I believe that they are good players and we can perform better in terms of games and Wycombe was one I felt we could perform better in.
“We’ve conceded a few late goals this season so it was great to get the late goal and the victory. It was a big win for us the other night and a big three points, so we are happy with the win and we move on now to another tough game on Friday.”
He added: “We did well in terms of we fought and we battled, but we just weren’t good enough with the ball so I expect more from us in that sense.
“The three points were the most important thing in the end. I am delighted with that and hopefully we can perform better and try and get a victory on Friday.”