Wayne Rooney has reiterated his pride in the way that Derby County’s players have conducted themselves in the most challenging of circumstances this season.

The 2021/22 campaign has been a testing one for everyone connected with the club, notably for the Rams formally entering administration in late September and automatically being deducted 12 points as a result.

On top of that, a further nine points were taken off their season’s total in November after the club admitted to a breach of the EFL’s profitability and sustainability rules.

The total of 21 points deducted means Derby are bottom of the Sky Bet Championship table and facing an uphill battle to retain their second-tier status.

Despite the challenges, Rooney and his players have displayed plenty of fight and have been backed to the hilt by Derby’s supporters both at Pride Park Stadium and on the road.

While many have already written off the Rams, Rooney and his squad have adopted the approach that while the chance to remain in the Championship remains achievable, they’ll give it their all.

There have been some impressive performances and results to offer encouragement for the second half of the season and a unified respect and bond between the players and fans has been noticeable.

Several experienced players in the squad, such as Curtis Davies, Phil Jagielka and Graeme Shinnie, have been mainstays in the side and they’ve been joined in the side on a regular basis by the youthful exuberance of the likes of Jason Knight and Max Bird.

From their 22 league fixtures so far, Derby have registered five wins and ten draws and that total has them on four points as the halfway stage of the season closes in.

Rooney is slightly frustrated a few of the draws haven’t been turned into victories at times, but on the whole he has been impressed with the way his players have conducted themselves and the mindset they’ve adopted.

“I’ve said it many times. but I think the players have been excellent,” Rooney told RamsTV prior to Derby’s trip to Cardiff City on Saturday being postponed due to COVID-19 outbreaks in both squads.

“With all the issues that we’ve seen going on around the club their concentration, work ethic and commitment has been great.

“I am slightly frustrated at some of the games which I feel our performances deserved more points over the course of the season.

“Even now, there’s a few that still frustrate me, but that’s football and we just have to focus on picking up points, working hard and seeing where it takes us.

“As I’ve said before, we just need to keep going and see where we are in February and March time to determine where the season is going to go for us.”

Derby’s next Sky Bet Championship fixture will see them host West Bromwich Albion on Monday 27th December (3pm kick-off).