Derby County manager Wayne Rooney has admitted that his side’s trip to Preston North End on Tuesday night is a must win game in his side’s battle against relegation from the Championship this season.
Rooney saw his side surrender a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 to Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park, with goals from Sam Gallagher and Harvey Elliott cancelling out Tom Lawrence’s opener for the Rams.
That means that Derby have now won just one of their last 11 games, a run that leaves them one place and four points clear of the relegation zone, but having played three more games than 22nd placed Rotherham, meaning Rooney and his side are currently relying on results elsewhere in their battle to avoid relegation.
As a result, it now seems as though Rooney is well aware of just how important his side’s trip to Deepdale in midweek is, as they look to put the pressure on those around them in their attempts to avoid the drop to League One.
Speaking after that defeat at Blackburn, Rooney was quoted by Derbyshire Live as saying: “It is a disappointing result, and now we have to get ourselves ready for Tuesday because Tuesday (at Preston) is a must-win game.”
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Following that trip to Preston, Derby finish their season with home games against fellow relegation battlers Birmingham and Sheffield Wednesday, with a visit to promotion chasing Swansea sandwiched in between those two games.
I don’t think there are going to be many of a Derby persuasion arguing with this assessment from Rooney here.
It is a perilous position that Derby find themselves in now, and one that would probably have been unthinkable back at the start of the season.
As a result, it now seems absolutely vital for the Rams to do all they can to pick up the maximum number of points possible, and give them any sort of chance of avoiding the drop to League One for next season.
Indeed, with Preston a side that seemingly have very little to play for going into that game, it does seem as though there could be a chance for Derby to pick up a crucial win at Deepdale on Tuesday.