DERBY County head coach Steve McClaren believes now is the right time for teams to gather momentum in the Championship promotion race.
“It is now that the season starts, the last 10 games or so,” said McClaren.
Rams are third but without a win in three games as they prepare to tackle sixth-placed Reading at the Madejski Stadium this afternoon.
“You see the likes of Brighton, Wigan and Reading winning games and coming through,” added McClaren.
“It is about momentum now, about seizing that initiative.
“The pressure and expectation will come with 10 games to go. It is already coming.
“We are there and we are in contention.
“We have worked hard to get into the top six and staying in there can be even more difficult.”
Brighton, in eighth, have won two and drawn one of their last three matches.
Wigan, FA Cup semi-finalists, have won their last five Championship games.
Reading and Queen’s Park Rangers have both won only one of their last three while Nottingham Forest are without a win in five.
The gap between Derby and Burnley in second position is eight points but McClaren pushes aside talk of still being in the hunt for automatic promotion.
“At the present, we are not even thinking about that. We are too many points behind,” he said.
“As we said all the way along, we are looking behind and we want to maintain this top six position. That is what we are working towards.
“We are in the top six and want to stay in the top six.”
Derby have failed to score since Chris Martin’s late winner against Bournemouth on February 22 but they have conceded only three goals in their last six games.
“We are creating chances, not scoring too many at the moment, but that will change,” said McClaren.
“As long as we keep our attacking style, goals will come.
“Bolton scored 11 goals in three games but then they didn’t score against us. That’s football.
“By having a solid, hard-to-beat mentality we can take risks. We can put three, four or five strikers on towards the end of games and go for it, so that [solid base] is pleasing and we need that foundation for the last 11 games.”