Wayne Rooney asserted his belief that Derby will stay up despite their 12-point deduction following a 1-0 home win over Reading.
The Rams closed the gap to a position of safety in the Championship to seven points following Craig Forsyth’s first-half header – his first goal in more than five years.
Derby, who remain in administration, are the only side outside of the Championship’s top five still unbeaten at home this season and a proud Rooney declared: “I believe we will stay up if the points deduction stays as it is.
“The players trust and believe in me, which is being shown out on the pitch with their fantastic attitude. They are a really good group of players who are fighting for this club.
“We’re in a very difficult situation, but the players are giving absolutely everything and we’ve got to keep working to try and pick up points.
“We’re back on positive points and it’s never nice to be on minus points, so the players deserve a lot of praise for turning that around so quickly and, if we stick together, we will get through this.
“I was pleased with the performance in the first half. We played some really good stuff and created some good chances to deserve our 1-0 lead at half-time.
“We also started the second half well and looked dangerous on the break. We dropped back deeper, but defended the box really well and I’m delighted with the three points.”
Rooney added that Forsyth’s first appearance on the scoresheet in 105 matches was no accident, saying: “It’s something we’ve been working on since pre-season.
“We want our full-backs to play very high up the pitch and we’ve not got the tallest of strikers but he’s a big lad playing at left-back and is a threat in the air when he gets into the box.”
Reading manager Veljko Paunovic declined to be drawn on reports that his club could also be penalised with a points deduction for off-pitch troubles.
He said: “That is out of our control and we need to win points no matter what.”
He added that he was happy with his side’s display despite a winning run of three games coming to an end.
“Overall, we put in a solid performance, except on one occasion when we conceded the goal,” the Serbian said.
“We played with a lot of confidence and creation in the final third but, unfortunately, all the shots that we had on goal did not end up in the net.
“But we did put all our energy, resources and strength into the game and there were a lot of positives except for the result.
“We now have the chance to turn things around on Saturday before the international break will give us a chance to rest and recover.”
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