Derby boss Wayne Rooney has called on his players to rise to the task of avoiding relegation on the final day after their 2-1 defeat at Swansea.
England’s record goalscorer watched his side fall to their sixth straight loss, meaning their fight to stay in the Sky Bet Championship is now out of their hands.
The Rams must beat Sheffield Wednesday next weekend and hope Rotherham lose one of their two remaining matches if they are to avoid slipping into the third tier of English football for the first time in 35 years.
Derby were on course to beat the drop when Tom Lawrence headed home two minutes into the second half, but two goals in two minutes from Morgan Whittaker and Connor Roberts condemned them to another defeat.
“We leave ourselves with one game left of the season and we have to win,” Rooney said. “We’ll certainly see who the men are and see which players can stand up and be counted for the game on Saturday.
“I’ve never been in a last day battle to stay in the league, I know it’s my job to make sure the players are ready and that’s all I can focus on.
“The players will be ready, it’s a shoot-out between the three of us and we know if we win the game Sheffield Wednesday can’t go above us, then we have to hope Rotherham lose one of their games.
“We work hard to stop those goals, so it’s disappointing. Every time we seem to switch off, we seem to concede.
“The players are fighting for each other. There is no lack of fight or character. The players will be ready for next week. We know what we have to do to stay in this league.”
Swansea are now playing for position in the play-off places, and head coach Steve Cooper is determined to continue the momentum heading into the post-season fixtures.
“What we wanted to do before the game was get as many points as we can,” he said. “If we finish third, fourth, fifth or sixth, we take that as it comes.
“We are not sitting here saying we want to play this team or that team, because when you qualify for the play-offs, you are a good team. Whoever we play, they are going to be difficult ties.
“We have got 80 points in a really tough season, with the circumstances that we have to work and play on.
“The lads deserve so much credit for it and I am really proud of them that they have done that. If we can get to 83 points, that’s impressive.
“I don’t think it was a great game, probably until they went 1-0 up, full respect for the position they’re in and I understand their approach to the game, but when that happens, a game can lack a bit of intensity and rhythm.
“Recently we’ve dropped too many points here. We’ve conceded some late goals of late, and it was good to see out the win.”
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