Nigel Clough admits he is optimistic about the rest of Derby's npower Championship campaign, despite revealing they have failed to meet his early-season target.
The Rams boss wanted his side to be in the top half of the table before this weekend's international break and although they currently occupy 13th position, Clough has been encouraged by their performances to date.
"Our target going into the break was to edge our way into the top half and in terms of performance, we feel we've had a reasonably successful start to the season," Clough told Derby's official website.
"While the points haven't reflected the performances, we feel a mixture of bad finishing, bad luck and decisions are the reason why we aren't in the top half just yet. However, we feel there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic and plenty to look forward to in the next 36 games."
When the Rams do return to action, they will be hoping to build on a three-game unbeaten run which began with a 1-0 win at arch-rivals Nottingham Forest.
Clough added: "We believe they'll blossom a bit more from going on a good run because we've already seen what they're capable of in the first two months."