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Mac delighted as Derby County break the 70-point mark

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: April 11, 2014

Burnley v Derby County Turf Moor CHampionship Steve McClaren

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HEAD coach Steve McClaren has described breaking the 70-points barrier, as Derby County did at Blackpool on Tuesday, as a huge step.

Victory at Bloomfield Road lifted the Rams to 72 points and third place in the Championship.

Tomorrow, they will look to add to their tally when Huddersfield Town visit the iPro Stadium, kick-off 3.07pm.

“To get over 70 points is massive, and we just need to keep it going,” said McClaren.

“There is always another barrier, the next one is 80.

“We knew Tuesday at Blackpool would be a high-pressure game.

“We keep challenging the players and testing them, and they keep doing it.

“We have got to keep performing, keep doing what we have done all season and we’ll be okay.”

Five games remain and a place in the play-offs, which has looked likely for weeks now, can be cemented this weekend.

Brighton, Ipswich and Bournemouth are all looking to muscle their way into the top six. They are on 61 points – 11 adrift of Derby, who also boast a superior goal difference.

Brighton and Ipswich face home games against Charlton and Doncaster, while Bournemouth travel to take on Yeovil.

Derby are 1/66-on with the bookmakers to finish in the play-offs. Queen’s Park Rangers are 1/50, Wigan 1/8 and Reading 5/4.

The odds are of no interest to McClaren.

“The key is to remain focused and expect the season to go on, and not to relax,” he said. “Once you relax, you are dead in the water. You have got to keep momentum going game-by-game. Once teams lose focus, it’s very difficult to get it back.”

McClaren says it would fitting for Derby to “get over the line” at home where they have won their last two games 5-0 and 3-0 against Nottingham Forest and Charlton.

But he said: “That would be great, but I don’t care where we do it as long as we know the season will be extended.”

Derby’s flat performance in the defeat at Middlesbrough last Saturday disappointed McClaren and so he was delighted with the response to beat Blackpool.

“We didn’t makes things happen against Middlesbrough,” he said.

“The Blackpool game, we made things happen, and we’re better, a good team, when we go out there on the front foot and make things happen.

“The first 20 minutes have been vital in the last three wins. We always say you don’t win the game in that time, but it goes a long way to dictating what’s going to happen.

“We’re a front-foot team, we just have to play with a bit of freedom and continue doing what we have been doing. Why stop? Why change after 41 games?”

Jamie Ward (hamstring) and Jeff Hendrick (hip) trained yestreday.

Both are expected to return to Derby’s squad.

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