Alex Pearce: Defender excited by challenge at Derby County

Alex Pearce
Pearce made 240 appearances for Reading from 2006-15 and scored 15 goals for the club.

Ex-Reading defender, Alex Pearce, believes that Derby County can be challenging for promotion from the Championship next season.

The 26-year-old signed a three-year contract for the Rams after being released by the Royals at the end of last season.

"Change does bring a challenge, it's great and I'm really looking forward to it," he told BBC Radio Derby.

"It's been a really good transition for myself, I've settled in well."

Pearce has enjoyed working with new manager Paul Clement, saying: "I've been really impressed with the sessions the manager has been putting on.

"He's been really good, he's been taking all of the sessions and the lads have been put through their paces.

"Obviously it's pre-season so a lot of the work we've been doing is fitness-based but it's all been with the ball as well."

After coming through Reading's academy, Pearce said: "I felt I left there knowing I'd done the best for that club.

"We got promoted in 2011 and got to a semi-final of the FA Cup, played at Wembley and I was captain."

Derby missed out on the play-offs on the final day of last season after losing to a Reading side containing Pearce, playing his final game for the Berkshire club.

But the Republic of Ireland international is optimistic for the future, saying: "I'm sure we can be up there challenging.

"We know it's going to be hard, whatever game you get thrown into on a Tuesday night or Saturday afternoon you have to earn the right to win that game.

"We want to push this year and be up there."