Blood, sweat and tears brought Derby reward at Norwich City
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Steve McClaren insisted Derby's battling point at Norwich City proved they can mix it up in the Championship promotion scrap.
The Rams were without injured frontmen Chris Martin and Darren Bent before losing holding midfielder Omar Mascarell on the eve of the game, which prompted McClaren to hand a debut to teenager Jamie Hanson.
Hanson's corner was fumbled by John Ruddy for a precious equaliser before the visitors repelled a late onslaught from the Canaries.
'We have had plaudits for our football this season, but this was about character and we needed it in the last 10 minutes,' said the Derby head coach. 'We got some luck on the goal and Granty (Lee Grant) made two fantastic saves and there was also some last ditch defending.
'There was blood, sweat and tears needed and we showed that in abundance. It looks as if Johnny Russell has a suspected broken nose and Jamie got a cut on the head and you need those types of characters to get results when you come to places like this.'
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McClaren feared the worst after a vibrant opening spell from Alex Neil's side.
'I thought after the first 20 minutes it was going to be a long afternoon,' he said. 'We had to dig in. We were a little too passive, but we got past that eventually. Norwich dominated early on; they are on a good run and they have a lot of momentum behind them and you could see that during that period.
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'They have Premier League players, they are a strong, physical side and we didn't get to grips with it. However, we stayed in the game and I thought we got better when we went a goal down. We relaxed, played a bit, created opportunities and we told the players just to stay in the game, dig in and you will get something.
'It was vital that we came away with something and I am proud of the players. It is a tough place to come and we would have taken a point beforehand.'
Derby's Premier League quest rolls on to Middlesbrough at home on Tuesday followed by Friday's trip to Mildands rivals Wolves.
'The top end of the division is full of very, very good teams and at the present moment, we have got to dig in and get results,' said McClaren. 'We have started the week well but we have got another tough game on Tuesday against Middlesbrough and after Wolves we have then got a fortnight's break to get everyone back in the squad. There are still plenty of games to go, we have just got to make sure that, like here, we fight for everything.'