Rams boss in positive mood
Derby County will go into their play-off semi-final first leg on Friday night full of belief, according to manager Gary Rowett.
The Rams secured their place in the top six with a 4-1 win over Barnsley, meaning they’ll play third-placed Fulham at home on Friday before the return game in London on Monday night (14th).
And Rams boss Rowett is confident his side can give as good as they get.
He said: “If you had asked me about the play-offs eight or nine games ago, I’d have said even if we get in we are not going to have enough momentum or form to really challenge, although we know the play-offs are unpredictable.
“Our last four games have been four very difficult games against Middlesbrough, Cardiff, Aston Villa and Barnsley, on the final day, and we have performed really well in those games.
“They will go into these games against Fulham full of determination. We have almost been given a second chance and a side like that is going to be very dangerous.
“All of the sides in there are good sides and sides with good quality, us included, and all are capable of winning the play-offs.”
Fulham ended their campaign with a 3-1 defeat at Birmingham City on Sunday, with the Cottagers unable to overhaul Cardiff City for the second automatic promotion place.
That defeat was their first since December, but boss Slavisa Jokanovic believes his team can bounce back.
He said: “I always believe we are going to win the next game, because we lost one game I am not going to change my mind,” he said.
“We showed quality many times, the character we showed many times - and we are going to be ready for the next game.
“We’re disappointed not because we’re in the play-offs, we’re disappointed because we lost a great chance to win the game.
“It’s part of football and we must be ready for the challenge.”
Fulham lost to Reading in the play-off semi-finals last season, with Reading in turn beaten by Huddersfield Town at Wembley.