Wayne Rooney was delighted to see Derby County return to Sky Bet Championship action following the March international break with a 2-0 success over Luton Town on Good Friday.
Derby took the lead after just seven minutes at Pride Park Stadium as on-loan Stoke City striker Lee Gregory scored his third goal in Rams colours from close-range.
Louie Sibley’s delicious cross to the far post from the right was knocked back across goal by Martyn Waghorn, leaving Gregory with the simple task of turning the ball into the net from a few yards out.
Goalkeeper David Marshall thwarted the visitors with two smart saves in the opening 45 minutes and they proved to be crucial as Rooney’s side doubled their lead just after the break.
Tom Lawrence was brought down in the box and midfielder Graeme Shinnie kept his cool to score his third goal of the campaign from the penalty spot.
Derby saw the remainder of the half out well to record a welcome three points and a clean sheet as they addressed a run of seven matches without a win in impressive fashion.
Speaking to RamsTV after the final whistle, Rooney said: “It is a very important win.
“I said to the players before the game that it was a match that we couldn’t leave the stadium today without three points in.
“We have had a very good week’s training and I thought the performance in the first half was good, we created chances and could have scored more goals.
“The only concern really was a couple of counter-attacks from Luton, which we have to do better to stop.
“In the second half, getting the early goal should have calmed the game down really, but after that I thought the match was quite scrappy and it had no flow to it really.
“Overall, I felt we were comfortable and didn’t really feel like we were going to concede.”
Derby lost Waghorn to a hamstring injury just before half-time, while Gregory followed suit on the hour mark with a similar problem.
Losing two strikers to injury is something Rooney has labelled as a blow.
However, he was keen to stress that dealing with injuries is part and parcel of football and that he has other options to call upon in the squad.
“That is football, we have to adapt to that,” Rooney said.
“Both players trained well this week, so to see the two of them injured is a blow.
“We have got a player like Colin Kazim-Richards who can come on off the bench like he did today and do a job for us.
“We have got different options we can look at in attack. For Waggy and Greggs, we will assess them and see how they are. Hopefully they are not too bad.”
Forward Tom Lawrence made his first start in three-and-a-half months against the Hatters after recovering from a troublesome ankle injury.
The Wales international sustained the injury in mid-December against Stoke City and Rooney is pleased to have the 27-year-old back amongst his attacking options.
“Tom is a quality player,” Rooney explained. “He has been very frustrated over the last few months being out injured.
“It was great to have him back just before the international break and I was delighted to see him get a start for Wales in their friendly against Mexico, as I felt it would only benefit us.
“He played 80 minutes today so that will be good for him. You saw in glimpses in the game of the quality he has got.”
Derby’s second game of the Easter weekend games programme will see them travel to the Madejski Stadium to take on Reading on Monday afternoon (3pm kick-off).