MANAGER Steve McClaren is challenging his Derby County side to end their mini slump when they host Wanderers tonight.

After a seven-game unbeaten run kept the Rams hot on the trail of the automatic promotion places, back-to-back losses have stretched the gap to the top two.

Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat to lowly Millwall was a coupon-buster but McClaren had no complaints about the outcome after his side’s poor performance.

Now he is hoping they can quickly get back on track.

“It’s not often I have had to say we were poor – but this is one of those occasions,” McClaren said. “You get results like the one against Millwall once in a while.

“It is a thunderbolt and we have to pick ourselves up and bounce back against Bolton.

“We have normally delivered at home, shown quality and played with a tempo, but there was no tempo or quality.

“We were so poor in the final third and we hardly created anything. When we did, we could not finish.

“We just did not have enough to break down a tight defence.

“It was just one of those days.You get them in football, sometimes you cannot explain it.”

The Rams had won eight of their previous nine games at the iPro Stadium and despite throwing everything at Ian Holloway’s Lions for no reward, McClaren is still aiming to challenge the top two.

He added: “We have in games put four or five strikers on and then sat here afterwards and said ‘we went for it, and it worked’. But I also said then that we will go for it in other games and it isn’t going to work.

“We had chances and half chances that we normally take, but we didn’t.”