Tom Lawrence has insisted that the long-awaited return of Derby County’s supporters to Pride Park Stadium can have a huge impact on the pitch.
With COVID-19 restrictions lifted in July, clubs can now operate with full stadium capacities once again.
The back end of the 2019/20 campaign, and all of 2020/21, was played behind-closed-doors under the COVID-19 rules from the UK Government.
Derby’s 2021/22 Sky Bet Championship season gets underway with a home fixture against Huddersfield Town on Saturday (3pm kick-off).
Lawrence, who scored twice in the Rams’ 2-1 win at Huddersfield on the opening day of the 2019/20 season, believes the crowd can drive the team on.
The meeting with the Terries will be the first match of a competitive nature before a crowd at Pride Park since March 2020 and Lawrence is relishing the prospect.
“I’m very excited for the season to start and especially because we have the fans back in,” Lawrence told RamsTV.
“It will be a massive boost for the whole team, so we are looking to perform in front of them.
“We have been waiting for a long time for it and it feels like a very long time. To have the fans back cheering us on and driving us forward, it is going to be a massive help for us.”
He added: “As a team, we will take every game as it comes but we want a positive season. Everyone is writing us off so let’s see what it brings.”
Lawrence was confirmed as Derby’s captain for the season by manager Wayne Rooney last month.
The Wales international is eager to repay the Rams’ boss and he is willing to help his team-mates in any way possible on and off the pitch.
“I think I will always be learning, you never stop learning,” Lawrence said. “The captaincy is more responsibility, but I am happy with that.
“My door is always open for lads that want to chat or anything like that. It has been that way in the past and they have asked questions and anything they have needed, so I will carry that on.
“I am happy the manager has put his trust in me. Now I am looking to repay him on the pitch.”
Derby were 2-0 winners against Huddersfield when the sides met at Pride Park last season, with the now departed George Edmundson and Martyn Waghorn the goalscorers back in February.
Lawrence has stressed the importance of togetherness, not just on Saturday but throughout the season ahead.
“It is going to be a tough game,” Lawrence said.
“There is no easy game in the Championship at all. Throughout the season there will be tough times, but there will be good times as well.
“We have all got to stick together.”