Derby County may have slipped to another pre-season defeat yesterday – and lose Stephen Pearson to a minor injury – but manager Nigel Clough sees no reason to panic just yet, and was keen to extract the positives from the 2-1 reverse at Crewe.
Clough took heart from the performance which he said was 'by far the best we have had in pre-season', and he wasn’t unduly concerned about the ‘backside blow’ suffered by Pearson after just 18 minutes.
"He got a knee in his backside during a challenge on the edge of the area," said Clough. "It is the type of injury that can go away very quickly, similar to a dead leg, and we are hoping he might be okay for the weekend."
Derby will face Npower League One side Exeter City on Saturday, and Clough stressed how important the Scottish playmaker was to the team with less than two weeks to the start of the season. "Stephen was one of the reasons why we were dominant early on, he was sharp all over the pitch.
"There was some very good stuff from us in the first 20 or 25 minutes, it was by far the best we have been in pre-season."
The match marked Chris Riggott's return to the club after an eight year spell away with Middlesbrough, Stoke City and Cardiff City, and the defender managed to find the net with a volley from a Chris Maguire corner.
"We were sharp and kept it simple but the lesson to learn is don't stop doing what we were doing in the opening stages. Certain players started trying different things," Clough continued.
"It is a lesson they have to learn quickly and playing against Crewe is brilliant because they do not change the way they play. They just keep doing the right things.
"Their goalkeepers made two or three very good saves but our finishing and decision-making around the box could also have been better. But in terms of our general football, there was a lot of good stuff, a lot of positive things."