Derby County are preparing to do battle with Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final as they fight for a place in the Premier League next season.
The Rams saw off Leeds United in the semi-finals to book their place at Wembley on Monday afternoon, but they now need to put to bed memories of their meetings with Villa earlier this season.
Frank Lampard’s side suffered a 3-0 defeat against the Midlands club in November, while the reverse fixture was even more damaging as Villa ran out 4-0 victors.
These are not good omens for the Rams, but they can take solace from the fact they produced a solid run of form at the end of the season to reach this stage.
Derby defender Richard Keogh has now spoken out about these defeats, but he thinks Derby will be a very different proposition for Villa in Monday’s clash.
“It is a one-off game now, knock out football is different,” he told RamsTV.
“Villa are a great team; they have got a very good manager who has gone in there and done a great job with them.
“They have got Premier League players and it is going to be a tough game, but it doesn’t matter what has gone on in the season now.”
Keogh is fully expected to start at Wembley, with the Rams’ skipper having started every match this season under Lampard.
Keogh is correct in his view that Monday’s game will be very different to the earlier meetings.
However, Dean Smith’s side will surely take confidence from the fact they have scored seven goals and kept two clean sheets across their two meetings with Derby this season.
Lampard’s side must ensure they don’t make these defeats a hindrance to their plans, and should simply view them as learning curves.