The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By James Owens

PAUL Cle­ment ad­mit­ted that his Derby County side are suf­fer­ing a cri­sis of con­fi­dence af­ter their dis­mal 3-0 home de­feat at the hands of Birm­ing­ham.

Derby chair­man Mel Mor­ris can­celled a warm-weather train­ing camp in Dubai planned for this week af­ter the Rams’ dis­ap­point­ing 1-1 home draw with Read­ing on Tues­day.

And Cle­ment ac­knowl­edged that his squad’s men­tal fragility showed as Birm­ing­ham struck three times in the se­cond half to head back down the A38 with a valu­able win.

“The key mo­ment for me was the first goal, and our re­ac­tion to that. You saw how frag­ile our con­fi­dence is,” Cle­ment ad­mit­ted.

“The first goal, and the se­cond goal even more so, knocked the stuff­ing out of us.

“I was very an­gry and frus­trated af­ter the game against Read­ing.

“I’m more dis­ap­pointed af­ter this game that we didn’t get the re­ac­tion and the per­for­mance that we needed.”

But Cle­ment re­jected any sug­ges­tion that Derby’s cur­rent run of four games with­out a win rep­re­sents a cri­sis of form, adding:“I have full con­fi­dence in the play­ers that we’ll get through this. I don’t think it’s ab­nor­mal that a team will go through a dif­fi­cult pe­riod in a long sea­son.

“I’d cer­tainly rather be go­ing through it now than in March or April.

“I don’t be­lieve this is a cri­sis; a cri­sis is when time is run­ning out. Time is not run­ning out, we have 19 games to play. Clearly we have to im­prove, and we need to do it as soon as pos­si­ble.

“Con­fi­dence can come back quickly and it can go quickly. I’ve seen it in the very best play­ers and teams in world foot­ball, and I’m see­ing it now.”

There had been lit­tle to choose be­tween the sides in the open­ing pe­riod, with Birm­ing­ham de­fend­ing res­o­lutely and the hosts strug­gling to cre­ate open­ings.

But Blues boss Gary Rowett ex­plained that he urged his side to show more am­bi­tion at half-time.

“I just said to the play­ers,‘Lis­ten: come on, if we’re gonna do it, let’s do it prop­erly. Can we get on the front foot? Can we be a lit­tle bit braver? If we lose the game, we lose

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