Wayne Rooney believes February will prove a crucial month in Derby County’s battle to defy the odds and avoid relegation.
The Rams go into tonight’s Championship clash against Huddersfield Town at The John Smith’s Stadium sitting second bottom.
The point collected from Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Birmingham City saw the gap between Derby and saftey in the division close to seven points with 18 games left to play.
Reading are just above the relegation places on 22 points and Derby, who have 15 points, have a far superior goal difference to the Royals.
Also in the bottom three are Barnsley on 14 points and Peterborough United on 20. The Rams have to play both at Pride Park Stadium. They also have home and away fixtures against Cardiff City, who are 20th on 26 points.
Derby’s six fixtures this month are Huddersfield (a), Hull City (h), Middlesbrough (a), Peterborough United (h), Millwall (h), Luton Town (a).
“The next four to six games I think will determine where we are at,” Rooney said.
“I knew what sort of position we would be in, that is why I have kept stressing that when we get to mid-to-late February that is when we will know how far off saftey we will be. We will know where we are and exactly what we’ll need to do to stay in the division.
I think this is a big month for us.”
The Rams have lost just one of their last seven league games and have gathered 14 points from 21.
“We will keep doing our job trying to pick up points and we’ll see where we end up,” Rooney said.
“I believe we have got the quality, we have got the mix of experience and youth to stay in this division.”