Defender Richard Stearman admitted Saturday’s East Midlands Derby clash against Nottingham Forest (12:30pm kick-off) is an occasion he thrives upon as Derby County look to extend their unbeaten league run.
The Rams have won four and drawn one of their last five league fixtures and moved off the foot of the Sky Bet Championship table last weekend with a 2-0 home victory over Sheffield United.
Wayne Rooney’s side leapfrogged Barnsley into 23rd position and the Rams are now only eight points off Reading who sit one place above the relegation zone.
Stearman, who came back into the side last weekend following the departure of fellow central defender Phil Jagielka to Stoke City, has played in his fair share of derby fixtures over his career.
He has played in the Black Country derby for Wolverhampton Wanderers, the Steel City derby at Sheffield United and this weekend will be his first taste of an East Midlands derby, should he be selected.
It’s set to be exciting occasion as Derby look to continue their good form and close the gap on those above them even further with victory at the City Ground.
“I can’t wait,” Stearman admitted, chatting to RamsTV. “I’ve watched a few of these fixtures from afar and it’s certainly one I want to be involved in so fingers crossed I get the nod for the weekend and I can experience it for myself.
“All derby fixtures are special in their own way and carry a bit of spice. I’m sure this one is going to be no different so it’s a game I’m certainly looking forward to being involved in and hopefully we can come out on the right side of a result.”
He added: “I think if you ask most players, they thrive on it and I’m no different. I want to be involved in the biggest games and for Derby County, this is one of, if not the biggest as they come and it’s certainly one I’m looking forward to.”
It’s been another tough week for the Rams off the field as MPs discussed the club’s off-the-field position in the House of Commons.
However, come Saturday, all attention will be on the City Ground as Rooney’s side look to record victory over their local rivals for the first time since October 2017.
The last time Derby tasted success at the City Ground came in September 2012 as Craig Bryson’s only goal of the game secured the victory for Nigel Clough’s side.
It’s set to be an incredible atmosphere with the away section selling out their allocation of tickets, and it’s an occasion Stearman cannot wait for.
The defender praised the club’s fans for their support throughout the season and admitted he will leave everything on the pitch whilst he wears the Ram on his chest.
“I’m just trying to do them proud and wear the badge as best I can,” he said. “I thrive on this situation we find ourselves in and I’m just trying to do my best for the club, the badge and the team.
“I’ve been fortunate that I’ve had a good relationship with fanbases for teams that I have played for and that probably comes down to hard work, wearing the badge with pride, leaving it all out on the pitch and I think most teams that I have played for, their fans will tell you the same.
“I’m just here trying to help the best I can and get us out of the mess that we find ourselves in. Hopefully we can give the supporters something to smile about on Saturday.”