STEVE McClaren says Derby County have gone the “extra mile” to keep the squad together.
The Rams’ aim following defeat in the Championship play-off final was to make sure the core of the squad kicked off the new season.
New long-term contracts have been handed to Craig Bryson, Will Hughes, Jeff Hendrick, Craig Forsyth and Jake Buxton.
Hughes, Hendrick and Forsyth have committed themselves to the club until 2018, Buxton to 2017.
Bryson signed a five-year deal to 2019 to end the uncertainty surrounding his future at the club when it looked likely Derby would lose the midfielder to Burnley.
Johnny Russell’s contract runs to 2017, goalkeeper Lee Grant’s and top scorer Chris Martin’s to 2016.
“We said the priority was to keep the squad together, and we have gone the extra mile to do that,” said McClaren.
“I think the players have to appreciate that and the fans have to appreciate it.”
The head coach also believes the strong spirit within the dressing room helped to persuade Bryson that his future is with the Rams.
“I think that was a major factor,” said McClaren.
“There is a great spirit in the dressing room and Craig Bryson sees where Derby County are going.”
DERBY’S third friendly of pre-season sees them face Nuneaton Town at Liberty Way tonight, kick off 7.45pm.
The Rams squad is expected to include midfielders Will Hughes and John Eustace, who both both missed the games at Matlock and Ilkeston due to “niggles” picked up in training.
Skipper Richard Keogh, Jeff Hendrick and Simon Dawkins should also be play.