SKIPPER Richard Keogh believes Derby County will be seen as one of the teams to beat in the Championship this season.
“We are there to be shot at – and we’ll have to handle that,” said the defender who led the Rams to third place last season and the play-off final.
Bobby Zamora’s last-minute strike shattered Derby dreams of winning promotion to the Premier League, but Steve McClaren’s men are among the favourites to go up this time.
Keogh says the players are looking forward to the challenge and coping with the expectations.
“I think that comes with the territory,” added Keogh.
“We played so well last year, and given how we played there is going to be expectation.
“We have to deal with that and it is a great challenge for us.”
Keogh says Derby being fancied for promotion should be seen as a compliment.
“It’s great, it’s what we want. We want teams to look at us,” he added.
“We have to make sure we stay on our game and work hard. Just because we had that success last season doesn’t mean it will automatically follow on, not at all.
“We have to erase last season quickly from our memory. This is a new season and we must make sure we set our standards even higher.
“We cannot get carried away, and I know we won’t because I know this group of players.
“We want to get better. We want to give a good account of ourselves again this season and come the first game, I know we will be ready.”