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‘It has its advantages…’: Warne explains why Derby County may have an edge over promotion rivals

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In the build-up to this crucial match, Paul Warne is reminding his players that there is still a job to be done. Despite Derby holding a three-point lead on Bolton Wanderers, Shaun Barker says stranger things have happened in football.

With the prospect of sealing promotion with just a point against Carlisle United, a party atmosphere is expected at Pride Park on Saturday lunchtime. However, regardless of their prominent position, nerves are natural for the players in the magnitude of this match. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing admitted he’ll have sleepless nights before he takes to the pitch.

Derby County hasn’t won a promotion since 2007, and Warne is leaning on one significant factor to get his side over the line.

Manager Paul Warne is looking on during the Sky Bet League 1 match between Cambridge United and Derby County at the Cledara Abbey Stadium in Cambri...

Warne has a few players who have experienced promotion previously, including Conor Hourihane during his time at Aston Villa and Mendez-Laing with Cardiff City. This is a massive bonus for Derby County.

They can use their experience of pressured situations to keep their players calm and relaxed on the pitch, something which has helped the squad overcome Leyton Orient and Cambridge United following their goalless draw against Wycombe.

Warne believes such experience has played a huge part in getting Derby to this point, giving them an edge over their promotion rivals.

“It has its advantages and disadvantages, but we’ve got the oldest team in this league,” Warne told BBC Sport.

“With that, you get crooked old bones, but you also get leadership and a bit of levelheadedness in the dressing room.

“I don’t go into this one thinking the lads are fearful or overthinking it, or think it’s done.”

Experience can get Derby County over the line

From the outset, many are writing off Bolton Wanderers, including the supercomputer. They have given Ian Evatt’s side a 0.8% chance of finishing second on the final day.

Derby have to lose the match, and Bolton needs to pull off a four-goal swing in their favor to seal a top-two finish. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t work to be done.

As Warne said, experience has helped get them into this position, and they’ll need their experienced heads one more time to seal the deal.

There are several players in Derby’s squad, including academy graduates Eiran Cashin and Louie Sibley, who have never experienced promotion before.

That’s where they can lean on the experienced players to alleviate any nerves on what promises to be a special day for the club.

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