Derby County midfielder Craig Bryson says it is no shock that the club's return to form has coincided with being able to play a settled defence.
The Rams have won four games in a row, the latest of which was Saturday's 1-0 win over Crystal Palace in the FA Cup.
And Bryson said Shaun Barker's return to play with Jason Shackell, Gareth Roberts and John Brayford was key.
"It's no surprise that when they're together we start keeping clean sheets," Bryson told BBC Radio Derby.
"I think the gaffer [Nigel Clough] said that is the back four he wanted to play the whole season."
Bryson, who has played 26 games after joining from Kilmarnock in the summer, has also formed an impressive midfield pairing with Jame Bailey.
And the duo have been just as important as the rearguard during that four-game winning run.
"Me and James seem to have a good partnership in the cente of midfield and hopefully that can continue," Bryson, 25, added.