RICHARD Keogh is hoping Derby County can use their first win in nine games to build a more productive run.
The Rams ended an eight-game winless stretch in Saturday’s 2-1 success over East Midlands rivals Leicester City, and after moving up from 18th to 12th in the Championship, the skipper wants to end the season on a high.
Their next game is not until a week on Saturday - due to the international break - when they take on Bristol City at Pride Park.
Keogh said: “I think we’ve put that run away a bit now, although it’s going to be a tough game against Bristol City as they are fighting for their lives.
“But we’re at home and hopefully the confidence from winning this game can see us kick on now.
“We’ve got eight games left and we need to finish as high as we can.”
With a number of injuries still troubling the squad, the week off has come at a good time for Derby, although Keogh admits that a part of him would like another game straight away.
“The plus side is we get a bit of a rest and hopefully get a few back,” he said.
“Although after playing a game like this, you are full of confidence and you want another game.
“But we’ll take the rest.”
Keogh netted the opening goal against the Foxes, his fourth of the season, with his previous coming in the Rams’ last win before Saturday, the 3-0 victory over Huddersfield Town.
He said: “It’s probably the best goal I’ve scored this season, and hopefully I can get a few more.
“The delivery was so good from Wardy (Jamie Ward) and I just needed to get the right contact on it.
“As soon as it left my head I thought it had a chance.”
The win over Leicester did not see Derby at their free-flowing best, and they had to fend off a late fightback as the visitors sought to end their own poor run of form, but Keogh admitted that he and central defensive partner Jake Buxton had relished the battle.
“Sometimes we are going to have to play like that,” said
“It was good to know we can mix it around.
“If you ask Bucko we probably quite enjoy that side side of the game - defending our box and throwing ourselves in front of things.
“It was tense but it was good to see it through.
“You’re not going to be at your best every week in this league because the games come thick and fast.
“The fans have seen us play football that’s a lot easier on the eye this season but, like us, they wanted to see a result.”
Chris Martin doubled the tally with his first goal for the club and Keogh said the loan striker thoroughly deserved his strike.
“He’s been great since he came here,” said Keogh.
“His all-round play has been fantastic, technique-wise, and he’s got a great touch.
“He is something a bit different to what we’ve got which you need in this league.
“Chris has shown his worth since he came here and he deserved that goal.
“He should have had one at Cardiff that was onside and I’m really pleased for him.”
MEANWHILE, striker Jamie Ward has withdrawn from the Northern Ireland squad for their matches against Russia and Israel this Friday and next Tuesday respectively.
Ward was named in Michael O’Neill’s squad for the international double header after returning to the Rams’ starting XI in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Leicester City.
However, despite lasting for an hour against the Foxes, he was then replaced after feeling some tightness in his hamstring.
Manager Nigel Clough said: “About an hour was all we could get out of Jamie and he won’t be right for the international games.
“He felt his hamstring tighten a bit but he will stay with us for treatment and we hope he’ll be ok for Bristol City a week on Friday.”