STEVE McClaren believes the next goal in Derby County’s Championship play-off tie with Brighton could prove crucial and the Rams head coach is happy for the visitors to take risks in their search to score.
Derby hold a 2-1 lead going into tomorrow’s semi-final second leg at the iPro Stadium following their first-leg victory at the Amex Stadium on Thursday.
A place at Wembley is still up for grabs and McClaren says his team can improve on their display at Brighton.
“We are satisfied with the result, but we can be better and we will need to be better on Sunday because this tie is not over,” said McClaren. “Brighton are a good team away from home. The first goal on Sunday? It’s crucial.
“Brighton have nothing to lose. They can take risks – and we want them to, knowing that we can cause them problems on the counter attack.
“Both clubs are delighted to be in this position and there’s no great pressure on either of us, but as we get closer, that pressure will be there.”
Brighton will need to re-write Championship history in the play-offs if they are to reach the Wembley final and keep alive their promotion hopes.
No side in the second tier has come from behind in the first leg at home to reach the final and Brighton boss Oscar Garcia will use that as extra motivation for his players.
“It is something we can think about and it could be a good reason to motivate the players more. We have to believe, we need to believe and we will go there to get a result,” said Garcia.
Derby midfielder Craig Bryson is expected to be fit despite taking a knock in the back in the first game.
“Craig Bryson and Jeff Hendrick are runners from midfield, and our two wide players caused Brighton problems as well,” said McClaren.
“We’ve got to do the same on Sunday. We’ve got to get on the front foot and try to go for the first goal.”
Looking back at the first leg, McClaren added: “We expected to have to defend. We were the away team and Brighton are a very good side but we had enough football in our side to win the game.
“We weren’t too good for the first 20 minutes - we were too open - but once we got organised and the people did their jobs, we were hard to beat.
“We had to be in the second half, because we couldn’t keep the ball well enough to relieve the pressure.
“We were away from home in the play-offs and there’s a lot of pressure and tension. I think the players coped well with it and got a result.”