DERBY County’s number one Lee Grant says all the teams in the upper half of the Championship will have ambitions of a top-six finish.
The Rams face Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park today, kick-off 3pm, looking to strengthen their fourth-place position.
Rovers, who drew at Derby on the opening day of the season, are four points outside the play-offs.
But Grant feels it is still too early to be analysing the Championship table.
“The time for looking is in another month,” he said. “We cannot get too carried away. The focus is the job in hand from week to week and so what is happening in the table is not having too much bearing on what we are doing.
“It is a case of taking each game as it comes. As boring as that sounds, it really is.
“Rovers will be looking to mount a challenge for the play-offs.
“Realistically any team in the top half will still have ambitions of top-six finish this season – and quite a few of those will still be aiming for an automatic promotion place.
“We are no different, Blackburn are no different. Their squad is geared up for a top-six finish.
“It is up to us to maintain the gap between ourselves and those chasing and that is what we are trying to do.”
Grant played 126 games for Blackburn’s neighbours Burnley and recalls playing in some keenly-contested clashes.
“A couple of good games last season, both drawn,” said Grant.
“Blackburn striker Jordan Rhodes popped up with a goal, unsurprisingly, at Turf Moor. They were great games, great atmosphere.
“Blackburn are a good side with lots of good players. Rhodes is still doing his thing up front. It will be a good test for us. Another good test.”
Rovers have the fifth best home record in the division with seven wins and three draws from 13 matches, and Rhodes has hit 16 goals this season.
Derby enjoyed an unbeaten run of nine matches in November and December which included eight wins. The sequence was part of a run of just one defeat in 14 and propelled the Rams up the table from 14th to fourth.
“In this league it is possible to go on a run of games without defeat,” said Grant.
“We did it, and Birmingham City recently went 10 league games unbeaten.
“Teams will be looking to string a run of results together and push themselves into the top six.”