Paul Warne looks ahead to Shrewsbury challenge

DERBY, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 14: Derby County manager Paul Warne looks on during the Sky Bet League One between Derby County and Lincoln City at Pride Park Stadium on February 14, 2023 in Derby, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Paul Warne’s Derby County side come out of the international break unbeaten in seven games and in ninth place in League One.

The Rams are two points off the playoff places and 10 points behind league leaders Portsmouth. They make the trip to Croud Meadow to face Shrewsbury Town this weekend who are four points behind Derby.

They sit in 18th place and have struggled so far this season, especially with goalscoring as they have the second-worst record in the league.

DERBY, ENGLAND – AUGUST 15: Joe Ward of Derby in action during the Sky Bet League One match between Derby County and Oxford United at Pride Park Stadium on August 15, 2023 in Derby, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Following the break, Paul Warne believes his side are in a good spot, he told Rams TV: “The players had an extended weekend and came back in on Monday. Training was really bubbly and I’m really pleased with how they’ve trained this week.

“We’re looking in good fettle and we’ve got Saturday-Tuesday fixtures for the foreseeable.”

His Derby side have had a number of injury problems recently, however they have had a few names return and have both Joe Ward, Callum Elder and Liam Thompson close to a full return. Warne added: “We’re moving in the right direction. We haven’t injured anyone else, which is a positive! Callum Elder and Joe Ward have been involved in full training and the others are getting closer.

“It’s pleasing because we now have around 20 first-team players to pick from ahead of the weekend.

SHREWSBURY, ENGLAND – JANUARY 07: Matthew Pennington of Shrewsbury Town celebrates with teammates after scoring the teams first goal during the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Shrewsbury Town and Sunderland AFC at Montgomery Waters Meadow on January 07, 2023 in Shrewsbury, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

“Everyone has to fight for their place and Wardy and Callum have to fight to get back in. It keeps the starting eleven on their toes, that’s for sure. Previously we’ve had a few occasions where we haven’t made as many changes as I would have liked or should have.

“Having this amount of players enables us to change things a lot more freely and keeps competition for places and drives standards.”

The Rams come into Saturday’s game on a seven game unbeaten run. However, Paul Warne thinks his side should be further up the table especially with the way they’ve been playing.

He emphasised the need to avoid dropping points: “We should be comfortably in the top six from the season so far. We’ve dropped points, regrettably, at home to Cambridge and away at Cheltenham.

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“I’m not saying we’re the best team in the league currently, but I do think we’re a top six team. It’s alright me saying it but we’ve got to back it up. At the moment I feel like I’m doing press after games saying we’re a bit unlucky.

“We’ve missed copious amounts of opportunities to score. I think all the lads have to chip in for goals and not rely on just strikers. Our overall play has been really good but I don’t think we’ve been ruthless enough in the final third . The only time we’ve really felt we’ve done that is Blackpool.

“I’m really pleased with how the team have been, I’m just frustrated that the final little bit, we’ve had a dearth of goals.

“I don’t get too excited or carried away. We need to be turning draws into wins.”

Ahead of the game on Saturday, Shrewsbury, like the Rams, are looking to find some more consistent form after not being able to string enough good results together.

Warne still believes that they will prove to be a tough test: “Like every team in this league, on their day they can cause you problems. They have always been a really good home side and I’ve always found them a really difficult opponent.

“I’ve always found that their home crowd really get behind the team and it makes them difficult. They haven’t been conceding many goals but haven’t been scoring loads, like us, either.

“I’d like to think that the best version of ourselves will give them a good game and hopefully we will come out with three points.”


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