STEVE McClaren is delighted people are talking about Derby County but the head coach says talk of a top-six finish and possible promotion is premature.
McClaren has guided the Rams from 14th to fourth since he was appointed at the beginning of October.
Twenty points have been collected from the last 27 thanks to six wins and two draws.
The Rams are also on a run of four consecutive wins and another in today’s early start against Blackpool, kick-off 12.15pm, at the newly-named iPro Stadium would lift Derby to within four points of the top two for a few hours at least.
“I think it’s great if fans are excited, that is what we wanted to create, that buzz,” aid McClaren.
“We wanted to get people talking about Derby County and they are doing that because of the performance of the team.
“We know it is a fine dividing line between winning and losing, and in certain games we have been fortunate but certainly over the last four matches we have deserved to win.
“There have been some good performances. We were a bit disappointed on Wednesday against Middlesbrough not to play our usual kind of football but we got the job done in the end.
“Today, against Blackpool, will be another difficult game.”
When asked if Derby are thinking about automatic promotion – only Leicester City, Queen’s Park Rangers and Burnley are above them – McClaren said: “No, we are nowhere near that.
“All clubs are capable in this division of going on a run, of building momentum and getting results.
“Teams have done that in the past, fallen away and then come again. That is the inconsistency of this league.
“Derby have had the same. Before me time they went up to sixth and then back down to 14th, and now back up to fourth.
“What we are trying to provide and build is consistency.
“We are not even dreaming of promotion, or play-offs.
“We are in there at the moment but the time to start dreaming and building expectation and really getting excited is in March and April.
“If we are in the same position then, you can turn round and say Derby County are genuine contenders.
“At the moment, we are on a very good run but we’ve a lot to prove.
“Eighteen games gone? Nothing is achieved after 18 games.
“We don’t want to stop the fans being excited or to stop people talking about Derby County but what we have to do is keep everybody’s feet on the ground, especially inside the football club.”
Derby’s home game against QPR has been moved from Saturday, February 8, to Monday, February 10th, kick-off 7:45pm for TV.