Wayne Rooney believes Derby County have ‘what it takes’ to fight against odds as they strive to retain their Sky Bet Championship.
Derby’s 21-point deduction, for entering administration as well as historical breaches of profitability and sustainability rules, have left them rooted at the bottom of the league table for several months.
After ending 2021 with three successive league wins, the Rams extended their unbeaten run to four matches with a thrilling 2-2 draw at Reading at the start of 2022.
They will be looking to extend their unbeaten Championship run to five matches on Saturday when they welcome Sheffield United to Pride Park Stadium (3pm kick-off) in their first home game of the new year.
Like Derby, the Blades are in good form under new boss Paul Heckingbottom and Rooney has full faith in his squad that they will give every ounce of their effort between now and the end of the season to overcome the odds.
Speaking to RamsTV, Rooney said: “Sheffield United are on a good run of form, they are a good team and have good players so we are expecting a really difficult game.
“Preparations have been good, we have worked hard in training, we have gone through how we want to play today and we will be ready.
“As I say every week, every match in this division is tough. We know when we are at our best, we are capable of giving anyone a game and winning so we will have to make sure we are on it.”
Rooney added: “The fans are extremely important for us and have been excellent all season, supporting both home and away, and getting behind us.
“They have seen the effort the lads have been putting in. We are a confident group, confident we’ve got what it takes to fight the odds and we will give every ounce of effort and energy that we’ve got into them games on matchday.”
Rooney has stressed that everyone in the Derby squad will have a part to play in the weeks and months ahead.
Several players, such as Colin Kazim-Richards and Ravel Morrison, have made impacts off the bench of late and the 36-year-old has made it clear each member of the squad has to be ready for their opportunity to shine.
“I’ve said many times that the lads who don’t start can be the ones who win you the game,” Rooney said.
“Even the lads who aren’t involved in the matchday squad, training throughout the week, train really hard so everyone has a role to play.
“The team will change at times, there will be players coming in from now until the end of the season and everyone has to be ready.”