Wayne Rooney says Derby County’s supporters are as important as ever – and he cannot wait to see them back at Pride Park Stadium.

Today, 8th March, is exactly a year since Derby’s supporters last saw their team in action prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the 365 days since the Rams' supporters saw the 3-0 home win over Blackburn Rovers, their presence in the stands has been missed.

Since last June, matches have been forced to be played behind-closed-doors up and down the country.

A limited number of fans could attend matches in certain tiered areas during December, but as the number of COVID-19 cases increased across the United Kingdom games reverted to no crowds.

The current hope is for fans to be allowed back to matches at the start of the 2021/22 campaign as the UK Government continues to provide COVID-19 vaccinations.

Rooney, who retired as a player earlier this year to become Derby’s permanent manager, is relishing the prospect of welcoming supporters back to Pride Park soon.

“Hopefully there will be fans at Pride Park again soon enough,” Rooney told RamsTV.

“It will be great to get them back in and see them at games again. We are looking forward to the fans coming back and they will be important for us.

“I haven’t had the fans (Derby fans) in at all while I have been the manager here.

“There were 2,000 fans at Millwall and at Brentford in December but to have full stadiums again, or many more fans than 2,000, will be great for the game.”

He added: “It will be great for everyone involved and for the players to actually go and play in front of fans again.”