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Battling display at Leeds shows strength of Derby County squad: McClaren

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: May 05, 2014

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STEVE McClaren was delighted to see his Derby County squad stand up to Leeds United in a “battle” at Elland Road.

The Rams head coach made six changes to his side with the play-off semi-finals just around the corner.

Out went Jake Buxton, George Thorne, Craig Bryson, Chris Martin, Jamie Ward and Johnny Russell for the final league game of the season at Elland Road.

In came Zak Whitbread, John Eustace, Will Hughes, Simon Dawkins, Conor Sammon and Patrick Bamford.

“The game itself was a battle but we made changes and the way we played just showed what a strong squad we have,” said McClaren after the 1-1 draw.

“It was a test for us, we knew it would be, and that’s exactly what we needed ahead of the play-offs.

“We wanted a performance. We wanted to be hard to beat. We showed a tremendous attitude.

“I am pleased we gave our squad minutes on the pitch because that is important.

“We made six changes and the level of performance did not drop.

“I think we tired in the last 20 minutes, but I wanted to keep them on as long as possible to get them minutes on the pitch.

“Everybody has come through and that is the key thing.”

McClaren has been delighted with his squad all season.

“The squad is the key,” he said. “Players have just stepped in and done their job, like they did at Leeds.

“John Eustace was tremendous, Zak Whitbread had not had many games and it was difficult up against Leeds strikers Matt Smith and Ross McCormack, and Zak handled it very well.

“Everyone has a big part to play in the next few weeks with these important play-off games.”

Derby cemented their position in the play-offs on Good Friday and have collected seven points from nine since thanks to wins against Barnsley and Watford, and Saturday’s draw at Leeds.

“The level of performance and the attitude has not dropped, and it normally does, and so that is very pleasing,” said McClaren.

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