Derby County manager Steve McClaren has challenged his team to repeat their resolute defensive performance from last week's victory against Queens Park Rangers, in order to aid their promotion charge.
The former England manager has overseen a dramatic rise since his arrival, losing just three matches since October to see the Rams climb from 14th to fourth. Yet despite scoring the most goals in the league, his side have conceded more than anybody else in the top 12, with 40 going in, in just 30 matches.
McClaren told Rams Player: "Keeping a clean sheet against Queens Park Rangers was really important because in the games against Yeovil Town and Birmingham City we conceded a few too many goals."
In those two matches, they conceded five, and threw away a 3-1 lead at a Birmingham City side without a home win in 11.
McClaren added: "We know we have the ability to score goals and that’s why we are the top goalscorers in the Championship and it’s down to us now to get a few more clean sheets. They can get you wins, especially at this stage of the season, so it’s about getting the balance right.”
Earlier in the week, his assistant and former Rams forward Paul Simpson, refused to blame individuals for the defensive troubles, and praised ex non-league defender Jake Buxton for his surprising performances since the new regimes arrival.
Speaking to the Derby Telegraph, he said: "Jake has been absolutely magnificent for us. It is not only what he does on the field, he is also a good pro around the training ground as well. Jake has got another 16 games and hopefully, he will keep himself at the level of performance he has shown already."
McClaren may have to do without young forward Mason Bennett after he was stretchered off for the youth team, and has to contend with a Sheffield Wednesday side that have made three loan signings in the past week, including former Newcastle United forward, Leon Best, who scored against Derby on the opening day for parent club, Blackburn Rovers.
The Rams had a fantastic weekend without even taking to the field, with promotion rivals Burnley and QPR both dropping points, meaning a win on Tuesday against Sheffield Wednesday would put them just two points off the Clarets in second place.
And it didn't go unnoticed amongst supporters that former manager Nigel Clough's Sheffield United side dumped rivals Nottingham Forest out of the FA Cup, with two late goals from another ex-Derby man, Chris Porter, condemning the Championship side to an embarrassing defeat.
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