Captain Conor Hourihane heaped praise on Derby County’s promotion-winning players and staff after seeing the club make a memorable return to the Sky Bet Championship.

Influential midfielder Hourihane added another promotion to his CV with Head Coach Paul Warne’s side sealing automatic promotion from League One with a 2-0 home victory over Carlisle United on Saturday.

A packed-out Pride Park Stadium witnessed the Rams register a record 92 points in a league campaign, to go alongside winning an impressive and best-ever 13 games away from home in a season.

Hourihane, who was appointed as captain at the start of the campaign, admitted that achieving promotion was ‘tough work’ - enhancing the belief that the credit that should be pointed in the side’s direction for their excellent and consistent campaign.

The Irishman spoke of his desire to help return Derby to the second tier when he signed in the summer of 2022 and he was thrilled to see that dream become reality on a memorable day.

Talking to Sky Sports after the match, Hourihane said: “It has been tough work this year and every promotion season is, so credit to the lads for achieving it.

“It was tough during the week building up to this and you know anything can happen.

“We’ve got a lot of experience in the squad and that has been massive for us, especially on days like this.”

He added: “The manager and the staff have been through it before as well so that helped with us doing something special and amazing.”