Wayne Rooney has labelled Derby County’s home fixture against Blackburn Rovers this weekend as an important one as they look to kick off their latest three-game week in a positive manner.

Derby will face Rovers on home turf on Saturday afternoon (3pm kick-off) before facing trips to Barnsley and Millwall next week ahead of the November international break.

Rooney’s side are unbeaten in five matches in the Sky Bet Championship, picking up one win and four draws, as they look to close in on the teams directly above them in the table.

Derby have five points to their name, as a result of being deducted 12 points for entering administration in September, and are six points adrift of Cardiff City in 21st place.

With 32 matches left to play there’s still plenty of time to chip away at those outside the bottom three but Rooney wants his side to grasp the opportunity to do so as quickly as possible.

“There are nine points at stake over this week,” Rooney told RamsTV.

“It’s a big opportunity for us but with difficult games ahead, two out of the three are away, so this weekend against Blackburn at Pride Park is important for us.

“Then we move on to Barnsley and Millwall, which we know will be difficult games but ones we can look forward to.

“We will be ready for them and hopefully we can pick up the points we need.”

On the visit of Blackburn, Rooney added: “It will be a tough game for us as they have good individual players and are hard to play against.

“They can play, they can go long and they have big lads up top. We have to be ready for that and test them with how we play and I think if we do that then we will cause them big problems.”

Rooney was absent from the technical area as Derby drew 1-1 at Coventry City last Saturday.

The manager was unwell and followed doctor’s orders to stay at home to mitigate the risk of the illness spreading through the camp.

Rooney watched on from home but remained in contact with his staff throughout the 90 minutes.

“It was very frustrating not to be there,” he said. “It was difficult watching from home, but I was in constant communication with the coaches.

“I was frustrated in the first half as I thought we played with a lack of energy, didn’t get to the ball nor play the way we have been lately and that was disappointing.

“I have to say, though, there was a great reaction in the second half. I felt we played some good stuff and deserved to get the goal from Graeme Shinnie to get back level. On another day, we could have gone on and won it so I was really pleased in the end, but frustrated with the opening 45 minutes.”

He added: “We had one of the analysts on the bench with his phone so any communication I wanted to have, I spoke to him or messaged him, whether that was changes or style of play.

“It’s more difficult when you are watching on television because you don’t see things which you would see on the side of the pitch, but that’s where I have to have trust in Liam Rosenior and Justin Walker to see what is going on and having their input was important.”

Derby have drawn four games in a row and Rooney feels there have been some dropped points during that run.

Goalless draws either side of the international break against Swansea City and Preston North End were followed by a 2-2 stalemate against Luton Town in the lead-up to the trip to Coventry.

While Rooney feels his side could have picked up more points during their unbeaten run, he knows that in the long run that the points recorded could prove to be vital.

“We have been in good form,” Rooney said. “I was frustrated with the Preston and Luton games because they’re ones I felt we deserved to win but didn’t.

“Coventry, over the 90 minutes, was a fair result – but now we have a very important game coming up against Blackburn and I feel it’s a big opportunity for us to get three points.

“If we do, then it will make those draws feel a bit better. If we don’t then I can imagine we will look back at those draws and think they’re missed opportunities for us.”

He concluded: “As we saw with how things finished last season, you have to work hard for every point in this league and those points could be vital in the end.”