Nathan Byrne knows he has a key role in the way that Wayne Rooney wants Derby County to play this season.
Derby’s players are coming towards the end of Rooney’s first pre-season in charge following his appointment last season.
Byrne, who is 29, says the Rams have enjoyed a productive and positive pre-season over the last month as the manager implements his preferred style of play on the group.
As well as plenty of intense training sessions, Derby’s players have also taken in testing matches against Manchester United, Salford City and Real Betis.
Their pre-season campaign will conclude at National League side Notts County on Sunday (1pm kick-off) ahead of the 2021/22 season-opener at home to Huddersfield Town next weekend.
Rooney is keen for his full-backs to play a key role going forward, as well as defensively, and it’s a responsibility that Byrne is relishing.
“Pre-season has been good,” Byrne told RamsTV. “We are learning every day and we’ve got quite a few free agents training with us, so it’s been about bringing that together and implementing a philosophy of how the manager wants us to play.
“For me, it’s good because the manager wants and likes his full-backs to join in going forward.
“Hopefully, I can do that with plenty of crosses into the box and some goals.”
He added: “We have got a good group of boys and the lads that have come in to train with us have been great as we work towards the first game of the season.”
Byrne joined Derby just under a year ago from Wigan Athletic following their relegation to League One.
The full-back racked up 41 appearances in all competitions and was a consistent performer throughout the campaign.
With crowds now returning to stadiums with COVID-19 lockdown restrictions lifted, Byrne is looking forward to playing in front of the Rams fans in the season ahead.
“I signed when the games were behind closed doors because of COVID-19,” Byrne said.
“It was good to meet the fans for the first time in the Manchester United friendly recently.
“I played over 40 times last year, so it felt crazy to have not seen them.”