Derby County's worrying run of form in the Championship continued on Saturday as they suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Stoke City.
Despite heading into the clash at the Bet365 Stadium feeling relatively confident due to the fact that they were able to salvage a draw in their recent showdown with Brentford, the Rams were unable to build upon this particular display.
The only goal of the fixture came in the 74th minute as Jacob Brown headed home from Nick Powell's cross to seal all three points for Stoke.
Currently 19th in the second-tier standings, Derby's advantage over fellow strugglers Rotherham United was reduced to five points at the weekend as Paul Warne's side beat Bristol City 2-0.
Reflecting on the Rams' display against Stoke, manager Wayne Rooney has admitted that the club are very much in a battle to avoid relegation due to a drop-off in performance levels.
Speaking to the Derby Telegraph, the Rams boss said: "Obviously the run of form over the last few weeks has not been good enough.
"We know, if we did not know beforehand, we are in a relegation battle.
"I think the international break has come at a good time.
"And it gives me time to reassess the team, reassess the players, and see what I can do differently to try and get more out of the players."
GIVEMESPORT's Joshua Cole says...
When you consider that the Rams have not won any of their last seven league games, Rooney ought to be concerned about the prospect of relegation.
Rivals Rotherham still have four games in hand over Derby and will be brimming with confidence heading into the international break after picking up a victory over the Robins.
Set to face Luton Town at Pride Park on April 2nd, the Rams may need to focus on working on their finishing between now and this fixture if they are to improve this facet of their game.
Currently boasting the worst goal-scoring record in the Championship having only found the back of the net on 27 occasions in 38 games, Derby will need the likes of Martyn Waghorn, Lee Gregory and Colin Kazim-Richards to step up to the mark in the coming weeks if they are to avoid relegation to League One.News Now - Sport News