Manager on Rams clashNigel Adkins is relishing the prospect of taking on one of the Championship’s top outfits, as Derby County head to Madejski Stadium this weekend.
With the international break drawing to a close, the Royals return to home turf for the first time in three weeks – taking on Steve McLaren’s promotion chasing Rams.
“Derby are an excellent side, we have no illusions about that,” said Adkins.
“For me they’re the best team in the league and they play football in a manner which is good in terms of possession but also effective. That said we have been scoring goals at home as well, it bodes for a very exciting game at the weekend.
“We have had an opportunity over the last fortnight to go and reflect on the first quarter of the season; there are a billion stats you can analyse and argue about but the top and bottom is both areas we need to improve on. Keep it out at one end and stick it in the other. We know what the Championship is like, it changes around so quickly.”
The international break itself was a bittersweet experience for the manager, who was naturally pleased to see his first team stars perform well for their respective countries – though wary of the threat fatigue could play in proceedings.
“The lads have done ever so well going on international duty around the world, it has been fragmented but we have got some work done with the lads here on the training ground. We’ve played every three days since the start of the season, we haven’t had a clear week to work on the training ground like we had in pre-season but that will come eventually. We have utilised the time, players have gone down to Solent University for testing and it shows that fitness has improved, the facts are there that the players have improved. We utilised the time as best as we could and we look forward now to the next run of fixtures that we’ve got.”
Whilst no fresh faces are expected back at the weekend, a couple of big names are progressing well in their recovery from long term injuries.
“Danny Williams has joined in a bit of training with us today but it’s still early days in that respect, he has a way to go. Garath McCleary has been involved in a bit of the training too but he has a bit to go until he’s given the all clear. We’re getting closer.”