PAUL Coutts cannot wait to get his first taste of an East Midlands Derby when he runs out for Derby County at the City Ground tomorrow.
The 24-year-old midfielder, signed by the Rams from Preston North End in the summer, is desperate to do well in the biggest game of his career so far.
He played against Burnley and Blackpool for Preston, but admits that facing Nottingham Forest tomorrow, kick-off 1.15pm, is the biggest yet.
“I’ve played in a few derbies in my time,” said the Scotsman. “The best ones were playing for Preston against Burnley and Blackpool.
“But few come bigger than Sunday and I’m really looking forward to it.
“It’s usually a fiery affair.
“I saw the one a few years ago with Nathan Tyson’s flag waving! “It’s going to be really exciting and I can’t wait for Sunday.”
Coutts is keen to make a good impression in front of a capacity crowd at the City Ground — but is preparing for the clash in the same manner as any other game.
“It’s always looked like a great game on TV and to be involved is fantastic,” he said.
“I don’t think I’ll be any more nervous than for any other game — you you always get a little bit nervous.
“We’ll prepare for it in the same way as any other game.”
Last year, Derby beat the Reds 2-1 despite Frank Fielding’s early dismissal as they went behind to a penalty.
Jeff Hendrick scored the winner late on and Coutts would love to emulate his young midfield partner.
“Jeff mentioned he should’ve scored a header before he got the goal last year,” said Coutts.
“He would’ve got a right b******ing from the gaffer if he hadn’t got the second one in!
“I need to add goals to my game and I’d be delighted if I scored tomorrow.”
So far, the Rams’ results have not really matched their excellent performances but Coutts is confident that they will soon climb the Championship table.
“As a team we’ve played really well and created lots of chances to win all our games,” he said.
“Apart from Bolton away (2-0 defeat) we feel we should’ve taken something from every game.
“We need to change narrow defeats into draws and draws into wins.”
Coutts has also had to adapt to playing out wide but looks like he has been there all his career.
“I’ve been a central midfielder but in the last year I’ve been pushed out right,” he said.
“I’m just delighted to be out there in a Derby shirt.
“John Brayford makes it easy with the runs he makes.
“He makes my mind up for me about what to do with how he bombs on.”