Wayne Rooney and Derby’s relegation hand Sunderland timely promotion reminder

Derby County’s long-expected relegation from the Championship has been confirmed following defeat at QPR. Wayne Rooney’s side battled valiantly against a 21-point deduction, but the 1-0 loss on Easter Monday means the Rams will be playing in the third tier of English football for the first time since 1986.

Luke Amos’ scored the only goal of the game in the 88th minute, while the visitors’ heartbreak was compounded by an injury-time dismissal for Tom Lawrence. Derby’s relegation was confirmed with three matches’ remaining, and they will conclude the season with a home fixture against Cardiff City.

Asked to sum up his emotions following relegation, Rooney told Sky Sports : “Proud. It’s a strange feeling, everything we’ve been through as a group…the lads on the pitch, the staff, the fans, the development of the team and players as individuals has been really positive.

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“We’ve been relegated, but I’ve never seen a team get relegated and see the fans react like that. I thought that was incredible, the supporters have been with the lads all season. Of course, I’m sad, disappointed, and upset. But I’m proud.”

Derby’s relegation was confirmed on the same afternoon Sunderland moved back into the playoff places with a hard-fought draw at promotion rivals Plymouth Argyle. However, the Black Cats could be leapfrogged again by Sheffield Wednesday, with Darren Moore’s side holding a game in hand.

Derby are still awaiting a takeover to preserve the club’s future, and if one is approved the Rams will likely be considered promotion contenders next term. Automatic promotion was again the objective for Sunderland this season, but the Black Cats are now battling for a playoff berth

League One is growingly increasingly competitive with a host of former Premier League clubs struggling to escape the third tier. Derby will now add to these ranks, and provide a fresh impetus to the need for Alex Neil’s side to avoid a fifth season in League One.

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