Wayne Rooney has been hailed for ‘taking Derby County in the right direction’ amid reports linking the new Rams boss with the now-vacant Celtic job.
Rooney only signed a deal to become the Championship club’s permanent manager last month, with the England and Manchester United legend officially announcing his retirement as a player to take the role.
But he is already being linked with an exit as the former striker has been tipped as an outside contender to replace Neil Lennon at Parkhead.
But the Rams are on a roll with Rooney at the helm, winning six of their last eight games in all competitions and rising to 18th in the second-tier table, eight points clear of the relegation zone.
And while reports are linking Rooney with a surprise and rapid exit from Pride Park, Derby striker Martyn Waghorn has insisted his boss is committed to taking Derby to the next level – and the players are all on board.
“We’re very pleased,” the Rams ace told talkSPORT host Jim White.
“In the last few games we’ve shown really good signs that we’re going in the right direction, we’ve put a few solid results together so it’s something to build on and a really good time in the season to do it.
“The gaffer has given us a self-belief to go out and enjoy ourselves. I know it’s difficult at times because each game is difficult and poses different challenges, but he’s given us the belief that we can keep teams out at the back and it gives us the freedom to go and play up front.
“He’s given us a self-belief to work hard for each other, dig in and have fun when we play football.
“When he first came in [as a coach] we were working a lot with each other, and everyone has learned so much from him.
“He’s taken a different role now [as manager] so it’s difficult with games coming thick and fast, as soon as you finish a game you start preparing for the next one, so it makes it difficult to have that one-to-one interaction and work on stuff.
“But his knowledge when he talks to you, he explains stuff, he goes through clips, he’s somebody you’ve got to listen to, because he’s not done too badly has he!
“When he came in, he outlined his intentions to win. Regardless of what happens, he wants to win games, so whether it’s taking you out of the team, making big and bold decisions, substitutions at difficult times, he’s not frightened to do it because he wants to win games and that’s clear for everyone in that dressing room.
“So we know what he’s about, we know what he wants to do and we know where he wants to go, we’re all on board with that and want to do as well as we can for him.”
Former Rangers man Waghorn also admitted it’s been great to see Celtic suffer this season.
The 31-year-old spent two seasons at Ibrox and helped the Glasgow giants seal promotion from the Scottish Championship to the Premiership in 2016.
He still keeps in touch with some of his old teammates in Scotland and praised the work of Steven Gerrard to end Celtic’s dominance, with Gers on the verge of their first top-flight title in a decade.
“The lads have done incredibly well this year,” he added.
“Their performances week-in, week-out, I know Steven Gerrard is one who isn’t happy if they win but don’t play well, but in that division you’ve just got to focus on winning and getting the title, and Rangers have done so well to be in this position and to be challenging in Europe again.
“I still speak to a few of them and it’s more than deserved. I’m over the moon for them.
“Regarding the Celtic situation, it’s never nice for anyone -but for Rangers fans it’s good news for us that they’ve had a difficult year.
“They’ve not hit the levels they’ve been used to, and in football these days it [Lennon’s exit] was always going to happen
“So for us, it’s turned out to be a pretty good season!”