SKIPPER Richard Keogh believes Derby County learned a valuable lesson from the costly mistakes made against Birmingham City two months ago.
The Rams conceded two goals in the final dozen minutes of the Championship clash at St Andrew’s to draw 3-3.
A team meeting the following day concentrated on the need to be a tighter unit while the defence and goalkeeper Lee Grant targeted clean sheets.
Seven shut-outs have been recorded in the 10 games since.
Now the clean sheets target has been extended, says Keogh.
“If we can keep clean sheets, then I back our attacking players to score goals,” he said.
“It is going well at the moment, but we have to make sure we keep defending well as a team.
“It is not just the back five, it is a team thing. The Birmingham game was a big learning curve for us.
“At 3-1 up, we should have seen the game out. We should have kept a better shape and not been so open.
“Everyone makes mistakes and it is about how you learn from those mistakes.
“We have demanded more of ourselves.
“We sat down as a back five and set a target for clean sheets that we should be hitting. We felt it was right to do that.
“Now we have kind of extended the target, which is great.
“I think there are only five or six teams in the League with more clean sheets than us, so we are on the right track.”
Six clubs in the Championship have kept more clean sheets this season than Derby’s 12 - Brighton (17), Queen’s Park Rangers (17), Burnley (15), Middlesbrough (15), Leicester City (14) and Wigan (13).
Derby have fielded the same back four and goalkeeper in the past 14 matches and Keogh says the defensive department has gelled.
“It helps when you have a settled back five because you get to know each other’s game and the competition for places is high, which is important,” added Keogh.
“Jake Buxton and myself have probably played together at centre back for two seasons now, and I think it shows on the pitch, and then there is Fozzy (Craig Forsyth), Andre (Wisdom) and Granty (Lee Grant). The more you train together and play together, the more you understand the way each other play.”