Wayne Rooney says he is looking forward to seeing how Derby County’s players take their work on the training pitch into a game situation this weekend.
Rooney’s side will play their first public pre-season friendly ahead of the 2021/22 season on Sunday when they face Manchester United at Pride Park Stadium (1pm kick-off).
Derby’s players have just over two weeks of training under their belts after they returned for pre-season training on 1st July.
Rooney and his staff have utilised the majority of the last fortnight on the training ground to implement his preferred style of play on the side, as well as building up the players’ fitness.
Rooney took over, first on a temporary basis, in November of last year with the remit of ensuring Derby avoided relegation from the Sky Bet Championship.
Now, with time to work on the training ground for a lengthy period of time, he is looking to implement his philosophy on the side.
Derby’s players have spent this week at a training camp in Surrey, enjoying a week together away from Moor Farm Training Ground, and Rooney wants to see his players successfully take the next step in their pre-season preparations on Sunday afternoon.
He told RamsTV: “It’s been a great week at the training camp; the lads have done a lot of work and they’ve done it all really well.
“We’ve had time to work on how we want to play and it has been a very positive week, which will be rounded off with a very difficult game against Manchester United on Sunday.
“This week was all about getting the work in and taking on board the messages we’re trying to get across to them.
“It’s my first pre-season with the group and preparing the team, so we’re excited for the season to start.”
The game against Manchester United is one that Rooney is looking forward to.
The 35-year-old is United’s all-time leading goalscorer after a trophy-laden spell at the club and he holds legendary status at Old Trafford for his on-pitch performances.
It is all about Derby for Rooney this weekend, though, and he is expected to give most of those that start the game 60 minutes against last season’s Premier League runner’s up.
While Rooney still wants to get a positive result, he knows the priority is how his side perform.
He said: “I think it will be a good game for us and I am aware it won’t be Manchester United’s full-strength team.
“They will still have some very good and experienced players playing, that have played at the highest level and in tournaments in their careers, alongside some talented youngsters too.
“It is the first step of us trying to play in a slightly different way, so I’m excited to see that.”
He added: “I want to see the lads try to do the right things. The result is not everything, but I want to still try to win the game because that is what you play for.
“Ultimately, the most important thing is seeing if the players can take what we’ve been working on with them in the last two weeks into the game.”
Derby will welcome fans back to Pride Park on Sunday for the first time since March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The club are permitted to sell tickets for 25% of the stadium capacity and Rooney is delighted that the Rams’ supporters will be back at their spiritual home.
He said: “I can’t wait for it. For me, the players and the staff it will be great to see the fans back at Pride Park again.
“We will be doing everything we can to entertain them and we know, over the next few months, it is on us to deliver for them.
“We need the fans behind us, but I also know for that to happen we need to entertain them and do the right things in every game and earn the right to play for this club.”
Kamil Jozwiak will not feature as he has only just returned to training after being given an extended break following his time with Poland at the UEFA European Championships.
One or two Rams players are nursing knocks and may not be risked, including Jason Knight, Jack Stretton and Louie Watson, while several of the free agents currently training with the side could also get match minutes against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.