It afforded him a full game in time to face his old club Crystal Palace on Monday, and is also timely because, with Tomas Repka facing a suspension soon, his presence may well be needed at the back.
Looking at the Derby draw, he says:
"I felt a little bit of cramp towards the end but it was good to get a full ninety minutes, and I should be all right for Crystal Palace.
"I am grateful that I have had no reaction to the back injury because you have to watch those - they affect your hamstrings and everything so you have to be extra careful.
"It was most definitely two points dropped on Saturday; the gaffer said after the game that if you are looking to get promoted you have to beat teams like Derby at home - no disrespect to them.
"It is disappointing after we'd been doing so well at home but we are starting to try and steady the ship right now - we need to get a win at Crystal Palace and build on that.
"It is important now to get a good run together because if you want to build up to the play-offs you need to get a good run now.
"Palace have done well and they beat Norwich last time at home - the thing with them is that they are always up for the big games and I'm sure that will be the case against us.
"But if you frustrate them they have got players whose heads will drop and you can take advantage of them; we know what we have got to do and hopefully we will go and do it."
Hayden, who was Alan Pardew's first signing for West Ham, left a lowly Palace side who, shortly after his departure, brought in ex-West Ham striker Iain Dowie.
"They were struggling but Iain Dowie has come in and turned it all around; they are there or thereabouts as well so it will be a good game," says Hayden.
"I think Dowie has done really well - he has come in and everyone has seen the notable changes he has made.
"I didn't really know much about him but it seems he has proven that he has the quality."
It will be a second game in three days on pitches that have taken some wear and tear, and Hayden adds:
"Selhurst is a bit drier than ours but at this time of year it is like that all around; they have to play on it and we have to play on it so it is something you have to get on with."
He remains optimistic about the play-offs and concludes:
"Looking at the teams around us there are a lot of good ones, but I think, although we have hit a little bit of a dip, that it is time to move on."