Wayne Rooney was felt feeling satisfied after Derby County claimed a 2-0 victory at Notts County in their final pre-season fixture on Sunday ahead of the start of the 2021/22 Sky Bet Championship season.
Derby’s pre-season games programme came to an end across the East Midlands against the National League outfit at Meadow Lane following the recent encounters during the last fortnight against Manchester United, Salford City and Real Betis.
In a first half of few clear-cut chances, Derby took the lead towards the end of the opening 45 minutes as defender Eiran Cashin rose highest to head home Louie Sibley’s corner.
The home side came close to an equaliser after the interval as Kyle Wootton hit the crossbar from close range, while the striker also had an effort well blocked by Rams right-back Festy Ebosele.
Derby rode the storm and netted a second late on as substitute Tom Lawrence coolly scored from the penalty spot after Ebosele had been fouled.
Rooney named a youthful Rams side, which included the likes of Under-23s players Cashin, Ebosele, Liam Thompson and Isaac Hutchinson, as well as Under-18s full-back Dylan Williams.
There were also starts for the likes of experienced players David Marshall, Colin Kazim-Richards and Craig Forsyth to guide the team on the pitch, while the likes of Graeme Shinnie and Lawrence followed off the bench in the second period.
Rooney was pleased with various aspects of the game, although he naturally saw room for improvement, but overall he was pleased with what he saw over the course of the 90 minutes.
Speaking to RamsTV after the game, Rooney said: “I thought it was a good performance. The first half I thought was very good, but in the second half we were a little bit sloppy.
“I spoke to the players about not getting bored, doing the right thing. I had the same talk with them last season after one of our matches too
“We planned the pre-season well in advanced and it was always planned to give some other player a run-out.
“In the other games, you saw a lot more of the senior players who got their minutes in those games and I wanted this week to have the time with the players to get them ready for the game against Huddersfield next Saturday. That was the plan, and I think all the players are now up to speed with the minutes they required and we can start preparing for next weekend.
“Overall, it was a good run-out. Players got the minutes they needed, and I am happy with the win.”
On Derby’s youngsters, Rooney added: “I thought the young players that played today were excellent. Festy and Dylan, our full-backs, were very good. Cash was outstanding at the back, Tommo in midfield had the courage to take the ball, get on it and get us playing, and Isaac did that as well.
“I thought the young lads did really well today and applied themselves very well. It was a challenge for them to see if they could take those instructions into the game.”
Derby will get down to work on the training ground this week to prepare for the visit of Huddersfield in the 2021/22 curtain-raiser at Pride Park Stadium.
With the competitive games back, and supporters returning to stadiums with COVID-19 restrictions being lifted, Rooney is looking forward to getting started once again.
“I have been delighted with the players,” Rooney said. “I can’t fault their attitude and the work I have asked them to do - whether that’s been running or the training sessions.
“As I have said throughout pre-season, we are trying to play a different way to how we played last season, I think they have taken to that really well. We need to improve, and we will improve, but overall I think pre-season has gone well.”
He added: “I can’t wait for the season to start. We have had two friendly games at Pride Park recently, but to be back in front of the home fans on Saturday in the league, I am sure they will be behind us and hopefully we can entertain them.”