Simon Grayson is looking forward to putting his Preston North End side to the test against big-spending Derby as Championship action resumes tomorrow after the international break.
The Rams spent £20m in the transfer window, half of that figure paid out on deadline day for midfielders Bradley Johnson and Jacob Butterfield.
With new head coach Paul Clement having swapped Real Madrid for the East Midlands in the summer, there is a big expectation on Derby.
Taking them on at Deepdale in front a healthy-sized crowd is a task Grayson is relishing, the game very much in the mould of Middlesbrough’s visit on the opening weekend of the campaign.
He has new signings of his own to unleash, strikers Stevie May and Eoin Doyle both in contention for PNE debuts.
Grayson said: “Derby are one of the favourites for this division, they spent a lot of money in the transfer window.
“It doesn’t come much bigger and better for us this weekend.
“When a team has the clout to spend £6m on Bradley Johnson and £4m on Jacob Butterfield, it shows what they are capable of.
“We are fully aware of what we are up against and are all looking forward to the game.
“There are different levels of expectancy between Derby and ourselves.
“They have spent the money they have done and have a manager who has been around Europe as assistant to some of the top managers.
“This is a game we really want to win. We have started the season quite well and want to build on that in this next batch of the matches.”
Grayson has enjoyed using the international break to give May and Doyle settling-in time after their arrivals before the close of the window.
How he chooses to fit them in tomorrow will only be revealed when the team-sheet is published.
“It has been good to bed them into the group and do some work on the training ground with them in the past week or so,” said Grayson.
“They’ve settled in quickly, with Stevie already knowing Will Keane, Chris Kirkland and Marnick Vermijl from Sheffield Wednesday.
“Eoin was at Chesterfield with Daniel Johnson, so that is an advantage.
“The international break has given us the opportunity to get some work into them, see where their fitness levels are at and to implement some of philosophies on them.”
Bailey Wright, Alan Browne, Jordan Pickford and Chris Humphrey are all back in the fold after being on international duty.
Said Grayson: “Hopefully they are all in one piece.
“The good thing was that they all made a positive impact for their countries.
“Bailey started two games, Chris came on in one and started the other, Browney scored a goal and Jordan kept two clean sheets. They should be in good heart.”