Derby County have made a strong start to the Championship season under Steve McClaren, showing no ill-effects from May's Championship play-off final defeat to Queens Park Rangers.
Recent results have been particularly impressive, with the Rams keeping four consecutive clean sheets. Whilst he's not usually in the first team, American centre back Zak Whitbread has recently featured in the starting XI - and has fared well alongside Richard Keogh.
Having moved from Texas to Runcorn at an early age, Whitbread joined Liverpool at the age of eight and whilst he barely featured for the Reds, he has forged a successful career in the Football League, featuring for Millwall, Norwich City, Leicester City and eventually Derby.
Now 30, Whitbread still harbours hopes of representing the United States at senior level. Whitbread has five caps for the USA Under-20's, but manager Jurgen Klinsmann has so far ignored the possibility of calling him up to the senior side - but the defender isn't giving up hope.
"I’ve definitely not given up hope," said Whitbread. "I’m still working hard to achieve that and it’s something I’d love to do. But it’s something that can’t be achieved while I’m sat on a bench or not playing to a certain level. It’s just about performing for Derby at the minute and trying to keep my place here. So I’m not thinking too much about international football but I’ve definitely not closed that door."