Derby boss Clough left to rue absence of midfield star Bueno
AUDIO: Nigel Clough was left lamenting absent friends as the Rams' home Pride took a battering on Saturday.
The Derby boss felt playmaker Alberto Bueno – out with a hamstring injury – was crucially missed.
'We certainly created enough throughout the game to score more than the one goal, but the person who you want them dropping to, Mr Bueno or somebody like that, wasn't on the pitch today,' he said. 'There were situations where you could envisage him just making a better choice either making or scoring a goal today and something like that is the difference.
'If he had been out there today we'd have fancied him to put one in because he can make a real difference for us, especially at home. He is, along with Kris Commons, our most influential player.'
Losing two goals inside 13 minutes was a poor start from which Derby couldn't claw back.
'They started well, but the deflection certainly helped,' he said. 'A 35-yard speculative shot was going about 15 yards wide and ended up squirming in under Frank (Fielding). When you get that sort of break it gives you a bit more impetus. They got the second soon after and it is very, very difficult playing against a team of Norwich's quality when they have got a 2-0 lead.
'Without question we can't afford to give teams a two goal lead, even with our record of scoring goals at home. The task was big to come back, especially against a very good Norwich side that are as good a side as we've seen down here.'
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Kris Commons pulled one back on 17 minutes, and Clough felt an equaliser would have put Derby on the road to finding a winning position.
'I think if one goes in at any time after that we may go on and win the game and we certainly had enough situations and chances,' he said. 'Paul Green was playing in the position where Bueno would have played and unfortunately he is not a natural finisher, but that's what we get when we play these games without our best player, or possibly one of our best players at home. If we had got an equaliser I'd have fancied us to push on for the winner, but it wasn't to be. Chances didn't quite fall our way today which was frustrating, but we kept battling away.'
Defeat ended a run of six home wins which had hauled them from the edge of the relegation zone to fourth.
'If we keep losing we'll be back in it as well, so we have got to start winning games, or at least not losing them,' Clough said. 'We have had two good opportunities in the last two weeks – 1-0 up at Burnley with 10 minutes to go and a home match today. So it's an opportunity missed – but probably a fair reflection of where we are generally in terms of the state of the team and progress.'