JOHNNY Russell reckons Derby County have left it a little too late to catch Championship rivals Burnley for the second automatic promotion spot, writes CHRIS WATSON.
The third-placed Rams cut the gap between them and the Clarets to eight points last weekend, with four games to go
All Derby can do is keep putting the pressure on Sean Dyche’s men, who were beaten 1-0 at home by Middlesbrough last time out.
And Russell is targeting maximum points from the Rams’ remaining fixtures.
“I don’t see why we can’t win our last four games,” said the Scottish forward.
“They will all be tough but we feel we’ve got enough in our squad to go and win those games.
“That’s the way we go into every game and the next four will be no different.”
As for Derby’s outside chances of overtaking Burnley, Russell said: “I think we’ve left it a little bit too late.
“We’ve given ourselves a bit too much to do.
“We’ve let them off at certain times in the season when they’ve dropped points and we’ve dropped some silly points as well.
“But you never know. Nothing is impossible.
“If they lose their next four games and we win ours, that would do it!”
Russell’s main concern is securing a play-off spot, which Derby can do with a win at Doncaster Rovers on Friday night (7.30pm) – and going into the end-of-season showdown in good form.
“We’re nearly there but this is the most important part of the season now,” he said.
“We don’t want to take our foot off the gas. We want to keep going.
“We want to finish as high as we can and we’re not going to do that if we relax and think it’s already done.
“Momentum is everything, especially going into the play-offs.
“It’s so short and any slight mistakes can cost you.
“We’ll be ready for that and, hopefully, we can get the results we need.”
If Derby are involved in the play-offs, as looks likely, Russell is keen to stay third – not that it historically seems to give many teams an advantage.
“We just want to stay where we are – that’s our main target,” he said.
“You want to finish as high as you can, though there’s not going to be an easy game in the play-offs.
“Every team will go into the play-offs confident they can do it.
“There’s nothing to lose, really, so everyone will be going for it.
“There’s three games and if you win it, the prize is probably one of the biggest there is.
“That’s what our aim is and, hopefully, our momentum will carry us through.”
The Doncaster match is being televised on Sky Sports.
The last time Derby were in front of the live cameras, they demolished arch rivals Nottingham Forest 5-0.
Russell added: “We’d take another result like the Forest one!
“But equally, we’d happily take a 1-0 win and another three points.”