Wayne Rooney has stressed that Derby County need to focus on themselves and not other teams’ results over the next few weeks.
Derby have five fixtures left in the 2020/21 Sky Bet Championship season and are four points clear of the division’s bottom three.
Rooney, since taking over as manager at the end of November last year, has managed to guide Derby out of the relegation zone following a poor start to the season – but he knows there’s still work to do.
Rotherham United, who are 22nd in the table, still have three games in hand on the Rams and are due to catch up on their fixtures over the course of this month.
Rooney is channelling his energy into what he can affect from Derby’s point of view and the side head to Blackburn Rovers on Friday night (6pm kick-off), before travelling to Preston North End next Tuesday (7pm kick-off).
With a home fixture against Birmingham City on the horizon next Saturday, the 35-year-old is targeting some two positive results on the road ahead of the meeting with the Blues.
“I think the next two games are very important,” Rooney told RamsTV. “We certainly need to better the results with what the teams round us get.
“Ideally, we want six points from the matches, but first up is what we expect to be a tough game up at Blackburn on Friday.
“They are a good team, not in the best of form but a very good team regardless. They play a similar way to Norwich, but maybe not with their quality, so we know what to expect going up there.
“Without doubt, there are two or three teams above us who are right in the middle of it like ourselves, but we have to focus on just us.
“We have these big two games coming up going into the Birmingham City game at home later this month, so it would be nice to start this run off with a win on Friday night.”
Rooney believes Derby’s squad has got what it takes to finish the season strongly and clear of the bottom three.
While injuries have hit the Rams hard recently, the Rams’ boss is convinced the quality he has at his disposal will come to the fore when it is needed most.
Recent performances against Reading and Norwich City, following the 2-0 success against Luton Town on Good Friday, did not provide the points the Rams were looking for - but Rooney wants to build on the positive displays.
“I know the quality we have got in the team; we have a lot of quality and in the last two games the performances have been good but we haven’t had the results,” Rooney said.
“If we can turn those performances into results then I think we can finish the season strongly.”