STEVE McClaren says Saturday’s final league fixture of the season against Leeds United is a much-needed test for his Derby County side.
The Rams have secured third place in the Championship and will continue their push for promotion in the play-offs, starting a week tonight.
First, they will take a five-match winning streak into the Leeds game at Elland Road.
McClaren has praised the football being played by his team, but the head coach is not totally happy.
He feels the players need to tighten up in certain areas and sees the Leeds’ challenge as a stepping stone to the main event.
“There is plenty to play for,” said McClaren.
“Over recent weeks we have been playing great football, but we have got a little sloppy in some of our play.
“We’ve conceded unnecessary goals – I don’t like that – and we should have scored more goals from the chances we have created.
“We won’t get away with that in the play-offs, so there is a lot to work on.
“We need to tighten up on a few things.
“We need this test. This is a stepping stone to the bigger picture - the play-offs next Thursday and Sunday.”
McClaren felt Derby should have been more ruthless at both ends of the pitch in the recent home games against Barnsley and Watford.
They beat Barnsley 2-1 and Watford 4-2, but conceded poor goals and should have scored many more.
Leeds sit 15th and have suffered a troubled season on and off the pitch.
However, the rivalry between the clubs will give the game an edge, said McClaren.
“Leeds away?” he said. “Do you think that is easy for any opponent? It’s a hard game.
“It’s their last home game, all their fans will be there they will want to see a Leeds win.
“It’s a tough game for us and we know we have to keep our standards high and performances going.”