In this edition of ‘Frankly Speaking’, Derby County manager and England legend Frank Lampard, talks about the massive East Midlands derby later this month.
The third international break of the season came to an end in November and I must admit I am relishing the prospect of the next three months without a gap in our fixture list.
Players want to play games. I was the same during my playing career and I’ve not changed now I’m a manager too!
Two weeks without a competitive fixture is a chance to regroup, rest and recover. However, you can’t beat the excitement and anticipation of putting your work into practice when the matches come around.
We don’t have another international break until March, so it’s a case of full steam ahead for us now and the ever-demanding Christmas schedule is coming up.
I think we got the balance of rest and recovery right during the November international window. It’s important to give the players a chance to switch off and forget football for a little while, certainly from a mental perspective, alongside taking advantage of the chance to work on the training ground.
We had a bit of disappointment to get over too. Not only did we go into the two-week gap off the back of a defeat against a strong Aston Villa side, we also suffered the setback of two long-term injuries.
Craig Forsyth damaged his ACL and has undergone surgery while Mason Bennett injured his hamstring and will be out of action until next year.
It’s a blow for both players. They have been here for several years and have shown themselves to be great professionals on and off the pitch, as well as being popular in the dressing room. We’ll give them our full support.
The break also provided a chance for a few other players to resume training. Mason Mount, Martyn Waghorn and Craig Bryson have all been important players for us so to have them back is a real boost.
Mason, in particular, has caught the headlines and was recently called up to the England squad off the back of his early season form.
He is an exciting talent with all the qualities and ability to go to the very top and I believe Mason is a great example of the loan system working.
Chelsea have a great young talent and part of his development is his year with us. It helps us, it helps him and it helps Chelsea.
His quality, work ethic and mentality, as well as his desire to improve, really does put him in a good place to enjoy a fantastic career both in club and international football.
Back to the team and our league commitments, we will be taking on last season’s League 1 champions Wigan Athletic this weekend. After that game, there’s the small matter of the East Midlands derby fixture against Nottingham Forest at Pride Park Stadium.
The Forest game is still two weeks away, so I think it would be remiss of me to think too far ahead when the focus is very much on the upcoming game first.
I am relishing the prospect of being the manager in a local derby for the first time, especially one steeped in rich history and tradition in the English game. It’s an occasion to relish and I’m sure the atmosphere will be incredible.
We’ll be playing for the Brian Clough Trophy too, named after the legendary former manager of both clubs.
From a Derby County perspective, Brian Clough oversaw what many describe as the best years in the club’s history. He masterminded their rise to the top flight and then, in 1972, they were crowned as Champions of the First Division (now the Premier League).
We know it’s a huge game for both sets of supporters and that it’s the first game they look for when the fixtures come out.
That’s what being a football fan is all about but, as I’m sure you’ll expect me to say, we will treat it the same as we would for any other game in our preparations.
Our focus has to be on the upcoming games and the hard work ahead of us in the short-term, but hopefully we can approach that match off the back of a positive run of results.
FOX Sports Asia have teamed up with Derby County FC to bring you a regular column where club manager and England legend Frank Lampard talks about the latest developments in English football.