STEVE McClaren has told his Derby County players to make sure their play-off lottery ticket is a winning one.
Derby’s bid to reach the Premier League will gather pace this week when they meet Brighton and Hove Albion in the Championship play-offs.
The first leg of a two-legged semi-final is at the Amex Stadium on Thursday with the return game at the iPro Stadium on Sunday.
Derby finished the League campaign in third place on 85 points following Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Leeds United at Elland Road.
Brighton grabbed a last-gasp 2-1 win away at Nottingham Forest to sneak into sixth place at the expense of Reading.
McClaren’s side will now battle it out with Brighton for a place at Wembley in the play-off final.
“Our league season is over – but our season is just beginning,” said the head coach.
“We have put ourselves in a good position. We have two cup ties, we go to Brighton on Thursday and lets get a result and make sure we are in it for the second leg at our place.
“We have done nothing yet.
“Now we want to finish the job off in the play-offs and that’s our next aim.
“We have bought ourselves a ticket for the lottery. Now we just have to make sure it is a winning ticket.”
Derby go into the play-offs on the back of a six-match unbeaten run, and as history-makers.
No Derby team has collected more points in a season than 85.
“The boys have made history but all the achievements, individually and collectively, we will reflect on once the season is over.
“Let’s hope we have another three games to play.
“We have to make sure we continue to do what we have done over the last 46 league games.
“We have to remain focused, defend well and play football because that is what has got us into this position.
“This is no time to change what we’ve been doing.”
The other play-off semi-final is between Queen’s Park Rangers and Wigan Athletic.