Derby County boss Nigel Clough says team spirit will get Rams back on track
NIGEL Clough believes the spirit in the Derby County camp will help the team emerge from a stuttering spell.
Derby have won only one of their last six Championship matches and have slipped back into the bottom half of the table.
They also crashed out of the FA Cup on Saturday, losing 3-0 at home to Blackburn Rovers, and a number of the players are suffering a dip in form, including midfielders Will Hughes and Paul Coutts.
Clough has on a number of occasions this season praised the togetherness of his small squad and feels that could be a key factor in the coming weeks.
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"This is the time the team spirit really matters," said the manager.
"It is OK having a great team spirit when you are winning, playing well and scoring goals.
"But this is where it will be tested and I think we will come through with flying colours."
Hughes, at only 17, and Coutts, the summer signing from Preston, have missed just one game between them this season but have been below-par in the last two games.
Injuries are also playing a part.
Jamie Ward is easing his way back after being out for more than three months with hamstring trouble and midfielder Craig Bryson has being ploughing on with a knee injury.
Mark O'Brien, who had been out for a year with a serious knee injury, was drafted in when central defender Jake Buxton was injured last month.
Clough admits he is concerned about the dip in form of some of the players.
"We have felt that in the last two or three weeks," he said. "Some are not playing as well as they were and some are getting niggles.
"But we have no doubts at all about the character and the ability of the players and it is important now that everyone looks after each other."