Roxy refuses to accept Derby are down – but knows they face big battle to escape drop
NEW head coach Roxy Fearon is refusing to admit defeat in Derby's bid to avoid relegation.
Fearon has replaced Paul McCartin at the Haslams Lane helm, with the team rock bottom of the National League Three Midlands table.
Derby are still without a win to their name with less than half the season remaining and are 25 points adrift of safety.
But Fearon, who was previously head coach of the club's Colts section, is not giving up hope of achieving survival, no matter how unlikely it may be.
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"We have to be realistic – we are relegation candidates – but a change of management may bring about a change in fortunes," he said.
"I don't believe there is a lot wrong that some hard work cannot improve.
"There's no pressure on me, based on the results we've had so far.
"But I'm not a defeatist. I never play to lose and I'm not going to start now.
"Our aim has to be to stay up."
Fearon's first game in charge is away to third-from-bottom Syston tomorrow.
"Syston is a game we can get something from," he said.
"We've got to get that first win and some consistency in our performances.
"I've watched videos of some of the previous games and we need to improve on our technical ability.
"The players have got that ability – but when you're losing every week, it can go out of the window.
"I believe we can become more competitive and give ourselves a chance.
"We are in a trough but one way of looking at it is that it can't get any worse.
"Derby is a community club and I want to bring the fun back into playing."
Fearon does not expect to make sweeping changes to the side this weekend.
"There won't be massive changes to the team initially – because that would be ridiculous," he said.
"There might be a few changes but the main thing is looking at little things we can work on in training as games are decided by fine margins in this league.
"I'm a great believer that if you don't train, you don't play – unless there are extenuating circumstances."
Andy Brown is back in training following a groin strain but Eldon Atherton and Ryan Manning remain sidelined due to injury.
Meanwhile, Adam Lambert, Lewis Thompson, Tim Sefton and Tom Milne are unavailable.
Fearon, who paid tribute to the "fantastic job" done by predecessor McCartin in winning promotion and the Midlands One East title last term, will be assisted by another Colts coach, Scott Johnson.
David Price has been appointed second team coach, while Mark Bradley is expected to remain part of the backroom team for the rest of the season.
"Mark has indicated that he wants to stay at least until the end of the season," said Fearon.
"His experience is invaluable, so we wouldn't want to lose him."
Fearon is relishing his new role.
"It's a fantastic opportunity," he said.
"Despite the results this season, I think there is massive potential within the club. I see this as a starting point, not just for the remainder of this season but for next season as well.
"I've no doubt we will go from strength to strength."
Over time, Fearon hopes to help the club's talented young players make the step to first-team senior rugby.
"We've got a good Colts section, with 13 of the first XV having represented NLD at either under-18 or under-20 level," he said.
"We've also got two who have represented the Midlands, so the talent is there.
"It's the transition period that is the difficult part.
"The integration of the Colts will be a slow process but it's something we will be working very hard on."