DERBY County’s players have the character to bounce back from their Wembley woe, says club captain Shaun Barker.
The Rams were denied promotion to the Premier League last season when they suffered an agonising 1-0 defeat to Queens Park Rangers in the Championship play-off final.
Steve McClaren’s men will be hoping to put the disappointment behind them by mounting another challenge in 2014-15.
And Barker is confident the current squad are well capable of doing just that.
“We’ve got to focus on what got us to that stage and keep doing it,” he said.
“If we can keep the squad together and maybe add a couple of players, I think we’ve got a great chance.
“We saw from Leicester last season how a team can learn from their mistakes and frustrations – and come back a different team.
“The lads deserved all the plaudits they got and, hopefully, there will be even more to come from them.
“It’s going to be tough, because there are always strong teams coming down and others who will strengthen.
“It’s tough to compete but we’ve got a good unit here and, fingers crossed, they can get the club back to the Premier League.
“It’s all about character and how we bounce back now.
“Without a shadow of doubt, we’ve got the characters to do it.”
Barker, who is recovering from a serious knee injury, believes Derby deserved to go up last term.
“Our season was defined by two minutes and, unfortunately, that did not reflect how good a season it was for us,” he said.
“We deserved to be promoted. Leicester and Burnley were the best two sides but we finished third quite comfortably. We dominated the final and it was just a shame that we couldn’t cap it off.
“It was extremely tough to take. What happened wasn’t in the script and we didn’t see it coming.
“We were confident going into the game and had every right to be.
“We were the form side and I don’t think any of the teams involved would have wanted to face us.
“But we will pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and if we recover in the right way, we’ve got a great chance this season.”