Derby boss fires warning shot towards Blackpool & Portsmouth following costly defeat at Northampton which also saw two key players suffer blows

Blackpool head to Pride Park on Friday with hope of claiming League One's final play-off spot
Derby boss Paul Warne shouts at his players during Saturday's defeat at NorthamptonDerby boss Paul Warne shouts at his players during Saturday's defeat at Northampton
Derby boss Paul Warne shouts at his players during Saturday's defeat at Northampton

Paul Warne had a message for any Blackpool fan who believes his Derby side will be there for the taking when the Seasiders travel to Pride Park on Good Friday.

The Rams boss insisted the ‘tough’ game he anticipates he’ll get from Neil Critchley’s men will suit his side better - so there’s no need to get carried away with Saturday’s shock 1-0 defeat at the hands of mid-table Northampton.

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Second-placed Derby, who had won four games in a row heading to Sixfields, had a golden opportunity to narrow Portsmouth’s five-point lead at the top of League One and put the pressure on the league leaders heading in the pivotal Easter bank holiday weekend games. Their hosts had also won just twice in 12 games prior to this weekend’s game, which should have given the Rams additional confidence. But they fluffed their lines as Sam Hoskins’ 23rd-minute strike proved the difference on the day.

Warne’s afternoon was made tougher after he witnessed key forward Nathaniel Mendez-Laing withdrawn early with a hamstring injury and central defender Sonny Bradley sent off. Both players will miss this week’s visit of Blackpool. But the Rams boss fired a warning to those thinking his troops were all of a sudden vulnerable.

Speaking to club media after the defeat to Northampton, Warne said: ‘I didn't think we were great today but you have to always respect the opposition and they made it difficult for us. I still thought we had enough chances to win, we just didn't take them. My disappointment is that we didn't show enough character, really. It was a good opportunity to put a good marker down in this match and we haven't taken it. On paper people may have seen this as an easier game, but it doesn't work like that and we've now got back-to-back tough ones against Blackpool and Portsmouth which possibly suits us more.

‘We've got six games left to pick up the points we need. Maybe it's a wake up call for everyone today that we've not achieved anything yet. I just want the lads to realise if the pressure comes on like that again, and they are chasing a game, they've just got to breathe a little bit more. We'll pick them up on Monday and look forward to the game (against Blackpool) at Pride Park.’

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The Seasiders have had extra time to prepare for Friday’s game as they enjoyed a weekend off because of the international break. Critchley’s side currently sit ninth in the table, just three points off the play-off places with seven games remaining. 

Blackpool’s top-six hopes were boosted on Saturday as eight-placed Stevenage could only draw 2-2 at Carlisle. Steve Evans’ side had the chance to take control of the one remaining play-off position up for grabs but on failed to do so they stretched their winless run to five games.

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