Wayne Rooney has praised Derby County’s supporters for their backing so far this season - and has stressed they will have a big part to play in this weekend’s local derby against Nottingham Forest.

Derby will welcome their local rivals to Pride Park Stadium on Saturday lunchtime in their final Sky Bet Championship fixture before the September international break (12:30pm kick-off).

Following the lift of lockdown restrictions in July, stadiums across the country have been operating at full capacity for the first time in around 18 months.

The COVID-19 pandemic saw matches played behind-closed-doors towards the 2019/20 season and the entire 2020/21 campaign and the absence of fans was felt.

Derby’s supporters have made their voices heard at Pride Park and on the road so far this term and Rooney is grateful for their backing.

He also knows the importance of the local derby with Forest and the Rams will go into the game looking for their first victory over the Reds since October 2017.

It’s an experience Rooney is eager to taste for the first time since joining the club in January 2020 and provide as a reward to the fans for their support.

“I think the fans have been great,” Rooney told RamsTV. “It’s great to see the support we are getting from the fans. I think what the supporters can see from myself, the coaches and the players is a real commitment to try and help this club move forward.

“The players have been excellent and have given everything in training and on the pitch to try and pick up points to try and get our campaign underway in a positive way.

“We have a big game coming up now in the league against Forest, so we know how important that game is and the lads will be ready; we have to just keep working.

“We just have to keep doing our jobs and focusing on what we can do to affect the game at the weekend.”

Derby have picked up one win and two draws from their opening four matches of the league campaign.

Rooney’s side have registered draws at home to Huddersfield Town and Middlesbrough, as well as recording a 1-0 victory at Hull City.

The Rams’ boss would love to go into the two-week break with a positive result, particularly against the club’s local rivals.

He said: “We know what a big game it is and how important this game is for us as a group of players and for the fans, for the city.

“It would be great to go into the international break with three points

“It will be a big advantage for us to have our fans at Pride Park. I’m sure they will be right behind us and in full voice. Our job is to get ready and be prepared for that game and we will be.”