Frank Lampard praised his tired squad after they held on to beat Reading 2-1 on Saturday.
The Rams started well but run out of steam in the latter stages as their exploits from this week took their toll, victory after extra-time and penalties at Southampton in the FA Cup just three days earlier leading to fatigue towards the end.
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But Lampard was pleased overall with what he saw.
He said: "We had a great start considering how tiring Wednesday was and the only disappointment was that we didn't really build on that.
"We had two or three other chances and when you're on top you need to be clinical. We were a bit shy of that but I couldn't complain about the football we were playing.
"I said to the players at half-time that we had to be careful because we could have either gone four or five ahead or get pulled back, and it was the latter.
"But I was proud of the players because despite the fatigue and the fact it was a mistake that let them back in, we saw it out well and deserved to win."
Harry Wilson, who has now been confirmed as a Derby player for the rest of the season, drew praise once again for his display, as did the other goalscorer Duane Holmes.
Lampard said: "Duane has been getting better and better and he did what I'd asked of him today and made that break from midfield to get in on goal. There is a lot more to come from him too.
"Harry is also improving all the time and worked so hard for us. He deserved the bit of luck for the goal."
Derby now have a clear week before they visit Accrington Stanley in the fourth round of the FA Cup next Saturday, something Lampard was relieved about.
He said: "The lads will get a day or two off now to forget about football and recover but then we have to focus on what will be a very difficult game for us at Accrington and we can't think any different about it than that."