Derby County battled hard but ultimately fell short as they were beaten 1-0 at home by Sky Bet Championship leaders Norwich City on Saturday - and winger Patrick Roberts felt there were good signs for the Rams to build on.

Former Rams loan player Kieran Dowell put the Canaries ahead in the first half direct from a free-kick, but a spirited performance from Derby almost saw them rescue a point.

Tom Lawrence struck wide in the first half, whilst goalkeeper Tim Krul denied defender Teden Mengi and Roberts the second period.

Derby almost levelled in the dying moments after Colin Kazim-Richards won the ball back and laid it off to Graeme Shinnie on the edge of the area, but the ball bobbled up as he prepared to strike and forced him to fire over the bar.

Roberts, who played his first full 90 minutes for the Rams since joining on loan from Manchester City in February, felt Derby executed their game plan well but unfortunately couldn’t force a way past the Norwich defence.

“I think we did quite well,” Roberts told RamsTV. “The manager had a game plan from the start because we know what kind of ability Norwich have as a team, so we had to try and stop that.

“I thought we did quite well. In the first half we were breaking them down; they had most of possession but we knew that we had to stay compact, stay tight and when we had our chance to keep the ball and do what we do.

“They scored a free-kick, which happens sometimes. It was a good free kick and they go home with three points because of that.

“We brought some young players on as well towards the end and they came in and stepped up to help fight with us.

“That is what it is about right now, we have to fight and keep going.

“We have got to take each game as it comes and try and win every match possible, but you have got to perform well too.

“I think if we put the performances in then the results will come. We have got to stick together. I am sure we will have a good week in training and be ready for the match at Blackburn next weekend.”

The winger impressed throughout the 90 minutes and was a constant threat on the wing with his pace and trickery.

“I have not had a full 90 minutes in a while, so on my legs it was taking a toll,” he said. “For me, it is just that desire to keep going and keep fighting wherever I play and whatever minutes I get.

"I just want to play the best I can and show what I can do on the pitch.

“That is all I can ask of myself for the team, the manager and the club. I just keep going until the end of the whistle.

“We have players and characters in the squad who can bring us out of the position we are in. We have got to keep going and keep plugging away.”

The Rams travel to Ewood Park to face Blackburn Rovers next weekend aiming for three points to move them further away from danger in the Sky Bet Championship table.

With only five games of the season remaining, Roberts admits that the Rams need to continue to fight for every point to see themselves safe.

“I am learning a lot and it is obviously a difficult period,” he admitted. “We are fighting to get away from the relegation drop-zone. It is a great experience for me again, I thrive in it and I want to be playing all the time.

“I have to keep working hard in training and do my best when I get games. That is all I can ask of myself.

“You have got to have confidence and belief. We have got to show that and we have got to put in plenty of hard work.”