Derby County manager Phillip Cocu has suggested that there is a chance of achieving a play-off spot with nine games remaining in the Sky Bet Championship season.
The Rams earned a comfortable 3-0 win over Blackburn Rovers on Sunday afternoon to move within five points of sixth place.
During his full league debut, Louie Sibley stamped his authority on proceedings with a stunning left footed thunderbolt from 25 yards and Chris Martin netted a brace either side of half-time to put the game out of Rovers’ sight.
In stoppage time Blackburn had John Buckley sent off for what could have been a career ending tackle on Curtis Davies, as Tony Mowbray’s side missed their chance to climb into the Championship play-off zone.
18-year-old Louie Sibley scored this beauty on his first league start for Derby.
He’s a real talent.
— Second Tier Podcast (@TheSecondTier) March 8, 2020
After the match Cocu said the play offs were still in sight. He said: “There is always a chance if you count the amount of games and points.
“I just want us to keep playing like we did today, we played really well.
“We have some difficult games to play against teams above us, but if you have a result against them you get closer.
“I don’t want to focus too much only on the play offs because if you get a draw, you think ‘it’s gone’.
“Of course, we will try to win every game, but the most important thing for us is the long term and next season.”
The Rams’ manager was impressed with the way his side played and said he hoped that this form continued into the last nine games of the season.
Cocu added: “It was not only a professional performance, the way we played football, I really enjoyed it.
“The first 10 minutes we knew Blackburn always start very strong, they have scored a lot of goals early on, so we needed maybe 10 minutes to find a way through, and we did great – from that moment on we had control of the game.
“It was a great goal and individual quality (from Louie Sibley), but how we played and how we put him in positions was part of our game plan.”
“(In the second half) we focused on demanding the maximum of ourselves, don’t think about heavy legs or that we played on Thursday, just don’t give them anything.”
Derby managed to acquire all three points even without their captain Wayne Rooney (due to injury), who has been a key part of the Rams’ squad this season.
“Wayne has a small muscle problem,” Cocu stated.
“When he tried to train on Saturday, it was not good enough and you also don’t want to take the risk he starts and pulls a muscle, and is out for the season.
“I think in one or two days he will be fine, he improves a lot every 24 hours.
“We will assess it to find out exactly what’s the problem, (but) we don’t expect it is a big issue.”