STEVE McClaren believes Derby County showed they are the real deal in the Championship promotion race despite losing to Burnley.
McClaren pointed to the positives after Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Turf Moor.
The Rams will dust themselves down and move on according to the head coach.
“This result was never going to decide who finishes second and who finishes third – there is still a long way to go,” said McClaren.
Victory for Burnley saw them stretch their lead over third-placed Derby to five points.
The Rams are 10 points clear of Reading, who sit just outside the top six.
Derby’s cause at Burnley was made all the more difficult following a harsh red card for striker Chris Martin shortly before half time.
Martin had already been booked when he went down in the area.
The referee felt the striker dived and showed him a second yellow card.
There is no appeal against two yellow cards and so the Rams’ top scorer will serve a one-match ban when Millwall visit the iPro Stadium on Saturday.
“The sending off kind of spoilt the game and made it difficult to get a result,” said McClaren, who was full of praise for the way his team responded.
“You couldn’t tell it was 11 versus 10 second half,” he said.
“We dominated possession second half, we controlled the game.
“I thought we had 12 men not 10!
“I thought we were brilliant. We created chances, we took the game to Burnley.
“Credit to the team, and the fans. They were magnificent behind the goal and the team gave them something to shout about.
“We have to take heart from that.
“Overall, we’re frustrated and disappointed because we did not pick up any points but we know if we play like that over the next 13 games, we will be OK.
“The game was about whether we could go to Burnley and perform. It was all about putting a marker down and showing that we are up there, and that we are the real deal.
“We’ve got two home games coming up and we need to take advantage of that now.”
Derby take on Millwall on Saturday and Bolton Wanderers the following Tuesday.