Johnny Russell is Derby County catalyst - Steve McClaren

McClaren praises 'fantastic' Russell

Manager Steve McClaren says Johnny Russell is providing the spark for much of Derby County's best attacking play.

The 24-year-old forward has started the last five matches and scored his second goal in that run in Tuesday's 2-0 win over in-form Huddersfield Town.

McClaren told BBC Radio Derby: "He was fantastic. He has such energy and is the catalyst at the moment. He has done so well since he came into the team.

"It was great to score but it is not just that, it's the work off the ball."

McClaren, whose side are back up to fourth in the Championship table, are just one point off Bournemouth and Middlesbrough and level on points with Watford.

"It was a composed performance," McClaren said.

Johnny Russell
Russell has scored two goals in his last five Derby starts

"We can improve on that but I am delighted with the application and the discipline. The work from Chris Martin and the wide players was fantastic.

"We had a knockback on Saturday and we needed a reaction."

Russell agreed that it was the ideal way respond to the last-gasp defeat against Brentford.

"In previous games we have let ourselves down and after the Brentford game we had a meeting to speak about what was going wrong and that was all positive," the Scot said.

"We showed that we had a point to prove and we did."

Russell was not a regular during the early part of the season, and his first goal this term came in his 11th appearance - the 2-0 League Cup win over Reading in September.

But after impressing as a substitute in the next four games, he has forced his way into the side.

Russell added: "The gaffer has shown a lot of faith in me and has taken the pressure off me to play the way I want to play. The way we set up against Huddersfield gave me a lot of freedom."