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Wayne Rooney praises Derby players after draw with Championship leaders Fulham

Fulham v Derby County – Sky Bet Championship – Craven Cottage
(Image credit: Adam Davy)

Wayne Rooney insisted Derby will not give up the fight against relegation after the 0-0 draw with Championship leaders Fulham.

The Rams had been left on minus three points following a points deduction last week but after following up Sunday’s victory over Bournemouth with the stalemate at Craven Cottage, the bottom club have collected four points in two games.

Rooney’s side held on in the face of sustained pressure in the second half and with leading scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic sidelined by illness, Fulham were unable to make the breakthrough.

Derby boss Rooney said: “It is a good point, a very difficult game against one of the best teams in the division. We could have nicked it maybe on another day but I think a point was probably a fair result.

“After the last week to get four points against Bournemouth and Fulham, they deserve credit for that. It’s been a tough week off the pitch but they keep coming in and working hard.

“And I am delighted for them because They are getting the recognition and the praise they deserve for handling the situation.

“I give the players big demands every day and they haven’t let me down one bit.

“We’ll keep fighting and pushing, you never know even if there’s a small chance of staying up.”

Fulham manager Marco Silva confirmed Mitrovic was one of a number of players in his squad affected by illness while keeper Marek Rodak was ruled out because of Covid protocols.

Silva said: “Mitro and Tom Cairney are ill. Some of the others like Harrison Reed, Harry Wilson and Bobby De Cordova-Reid have also been ill with a fever.

“Nothing to do with Covid but we have six or seven players affected, some who could play tonight and some who couldn’t.

“With Marek, he has been told there was someone on the plane had Covid when he came back from internationals. If the game had been later tonight he could have played. It’s a strange situation but there is a protocol and we respect the situation.”

Silva admitted his side were below par but insisted the absence of Mitrovic was not the reason for the draw.

He said: “It definitely wasn’t our best performance but we created enough to win the game. We started a bit slower than normal but we created more than enough to win the game.

“We are not happy because we didn’t win the game. We created so many chances. It’s something that can happen. We lost to Blackpool when Mitro played. He is an important player but he is not the reason we didn’t win the game.”