The international break has come at a good time for the Rams because it allows them to reassess their current situation and work on ways they can start to climb the table after a difficult run of results.
The side are now chasing the lead in the Championship, but the boss has suggested that the aim is still very much getting promoted into the Premier League.
“I feel sorry for the players because they don't deserve it but if we come back strong in the last seven games, we will get what we deserve,” he said.
“The target is either automatic promotion or through the play-offs.”
Derby were top of the table with a small lead a few weeks ago, which was the evidence of a lot of hard work that had been put in over a long season.
Injuries and misfortune have come at the wrong time but the club still have a good chance of going up before the end of the campaign.
The international break divides things up and creates a chance for the injured players at the club to work hard on their recovery without the pressure of a game hanging over their heads this weekend.
Five points to second place and automatic promotion, which the club would prefer, is not an impossible gap to claw back but Derby have to be perfect and rely on others slipping up, because things are no longer in their hands.