Hartlepool United will be facing a wounded animal when Derby County come to Victoria Park in the FA Cup.
The Rams lost their top-of-the-table Sky Bet Championship match at Middlesbrough on Saturday, when late goals by Albert Adomah and George Friend clinched all three points.
We are in a no-win situation, if you win you are expected to and if you lose, everyone is on you for it.JOHNNY RUSSELL
It was only Derby’s third defeat in the league and midfielder Johnny Russell says there will be a response.
“I hope so, that’s the plan,” said the Scot who was County’s star performer at the Riverside.
“We’ll get back in and work all week towards that and hopefully we can put this result behind us.
“Whenever we’ve had a defeat or a poor game before we’ve been good at responding. That’s what we need to do now.”
The most dejecting thing for Derby was the fact the division’s leading scorers failed to find the Boro net.
“We are more than capable of creating chances at any point of a game and we have the playters who can finish them as well,
“That’s what makes our performance disappointing, we didn’t really do it apart from that 15-minute spell at the end of the first half.”
The 25-year-old admitted promotion is the name of the game for the Rams, who sit second in the table.
However, he stressed that does not mean Derby will be taking a match at Pools anything but seriously.
“Every game is tricky,” explained Russell who says he is desperate to play.
“We are in a no-win situation, if you win you are expected to and if you lose, everyone is on you for it.
“It’s a tie we’ll look forward to, we look forward to every game, and it’s a chance to show what we can do.
“You want to stay in the team – and I want to play every match – but there are players desperate to get in.
“If there are changes or no changes, the players will be giving their all.
“I think we’d rather have a league game and a chance to get three points, but that’s not how the fixtures have worked out, it’s a cup game.
“We’ll be going all out to get in the next round.
“Cup ties are always a bit special so you want to be involved in them.
“But our main aim is to get promoted and hopefully if we continue what we’ve done in the first half of the season we’ll be right up there.”
Derby were hurt by Saturday’s defeat though Russell conceded Boro were the better team.
“We did not really show our true selves and we really need to get back to that as quick as we can,” he said.
“The couple of days after a defeat are tough, no-one likes losing.
“We were desperate to win this game, but we took nothing from it and didn’t look like taking anything from it either.
“You have to hand it to Middlesbrough, they are a great side, the best team we’ve faced.
“It’s a pity there is a bit of a gap now between us, but you can’t take away what we’ve done so far, it’s been a great season.”