Derby goalkeeper Lee Grant believes Rams captain Richard Keogh is strong enough to put his Wembley heartache behind him and lead the club on another promotion challenge next season.

The Republic of Ireland international, outstanding alongside Jake Buxton in central defence during a record-breaking campaign for Derby, was at fault for Bobby Zamora's 90th-minute goal which saw 10-man QPR snatch victory in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final and seal an immediate return to the Barclays Premier League.

Junior Hoilett managed to wrestle possession away from Buxton down the right-hand side of the penalty area. His cross was poor but so was Keogh's touch and he knocked the ball straight into the path of Zamora who beat goalkeeper Grant with a left-foot shot into the far corner.

Keogh, understandably, was in tears after the final whistle and was consoled by several of his team-mates and manager Steve McClaren.

Grant, an ever-present this season for Derby, insists his room-mate has the strength of character to cope with the disappointment and expects the experience to make him - and the whole squad - stronger.

"Obviously it's very difficult for him right now but he hasn't let us down this season, quite the opposite," said Grant.

"Richard Keogh has led the team on and off the field, you don't really get much better.

"He'll recover from this in time, we all will, and Richard will be right there when we return in the summer eager to help the club hopefully go one step further next season.

"We are room-mates and we talk in great detail about, well everything really. I've said to him that we win together and we lose together. He's led us with his character and his ability - more importantly his ability - all season and he'll be back again next season doing exactly the same things, don't you worry about that.

"They (Keogh and Buxton) have every right to be distraught. There's an opportunity presented to you and you're excited about what the future might hold and then that's all taken away from you in the blink of an eye. So I'm not surprised.

"And those two in particular for me have been magnificent. It's almost impossible to put into words how well they have done this season. How well they have led a young side. I've stood behind them all season and some of the work I've witnessed at times has been incredible.

"Those two can hold their heads high for the season they've had."