Frank Lampard: Derby County need to rediscover quality after Nottingham Forest defeat
Manager Frank Lampard says Derby County must rediscover their "quality" after a run of just three league wins in 12 games has seen their Championship promotion prospects falter.
Monday's defeat against fierce local rivals Nottingham Forest consigned the Rams to back-to-back defeats, also was also a missed opportunity to climb above Bristol City into the final Championship play-off place.
Lampard's side had the majority of possession after Yohan Benalouane's second-minute opener but only managed two shots on target at the City Ground.
In the 12 matches starting from the 0-0 reverse fixture draw with Forest at Pride Park on 17 December, Derby have picked up just 14 points, with only one point and one goal in their past three matches.
"We have a good bunch in there and nothing is for the want of trying," said the former Chelsea and England midfielder. "They are giving everything.
"But when the quality is down - and we know they have quality - that is a back-to-basics thing. It is work, reviewing the games and seeing how we can improve.
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"In three games now our quality has gone down and needs to come back quickly to get back to winning ways.
"We are disappointed to lose obviously but we are ahead of Forest with a game in hand and remain in touching distance of the top six."
Lampard expectations raised after bright start
An impressive start to his first season as a manager has raised expectations around the club against a backdrop of trimming the wage bill, balancing the budget and reshaping the squad.
"The mandate when I came here wasn't promotion and play-offs, it was transition," Lampard said.
"When I walked in here it, we were selling Matej Vydra who scored 22 goals and we wanted to bring the age of the squad down, which was the oldest in the league.
"To do that and maintain a push has been testing and now it's the biggest test of all, because we have done pretty well in the first half of the season and were fighting top six all the way."
Lampard said Injuries to key players like Mason Mount, Tom Lawrence and Jack Marriott in recent weeks has asked questions of his squad.
"Now we have a little challenge - for all of us, myself included," Lampard added. "Can we push on for 13 games and get ourselves back in there?
"It's a test for us all to see how we get on."