Preston boss Alex Neil thinks his Derby counterpart Frank Lampard has done a good job after entering the ‘unknown’ world of management.
Neil and Lampard will share Deepdale’s technical area as their sides meet in a Friday night televised clash.
The Rams make the visit to Lancashire in sixth place and their task in the coming weeks will be to cement their slot in the play-off positions.
Casting his eye over Derby, Neil said: “Frank going in there was always going to be a little bit of the unknown.
“He had never managed but you look at his pedigree as a player which suggested he knew what he was talking about and could lead a team.
“What Derby have done is churned a lot of the squad and got a lot of younger players in.
“I would think they will be pleased with what the season has provided so far.
“I’m sure they are hopeful that they will hit the play-offs .”
Neil says history shows that the road from a glittering playing career to management is not always a smooth one.
Lampard won a stack of trophies in a long career and took his time before taking the step on to the other side of the touchline.
“You see top players all over the world go into management and not have the best of times,” said Neil.
“A lot will depend on the circumstances you go into and what you must remember is that playing and managing are two completely different things.
“One doesn’t naturally fold into the other.
“It does assist and help in giving you the experience and knowledge of being involved in big games, with dealing with players.”
This will be Derby’s second visit to Lancashire in less than a week, having won 1-0 against Accrington Stanley in the FA Cup last Saturday.
The Rams’ form has been decent of late – in the league since the start of December they have won four, drawn three and lost twice, while they knocked Southampton out of the cup on penalties to set up the Accrington tie.
Their top scorer is Harry Wilson, who is on a season’s loan from Liverpool.
Wilson, 21, has scored 12 goals in all competitions, with four of those coming in his last six appearances.
Jack Marriott is next in the scoring chart with 10 goals.
Derby recently added to their squad with the signing of Ashley Cole on a short-term deal.
The ex-England left-back had been playing in the United States with LA Galaxy.
Cole could play a part at Deepdale, more than likely from the bench.
Derby will be without right-back Jayden Bogle after he was sent off at Accrington.