Derby County have made Northern Ireland international Chris Baird their latest summer signing.

Derby County have made Northern Ireland international Chris Baird their latest summer signing.

The 33 year-old, who has acquired 72 full international caps for his country, has joined Derby on a two-year deal, with the option of a further year, ahead of the expiry of his contract at Barclays Premier League side West Bromwich Albion.

The Ballymoney-born player is capable of performing in a number of positions, notably as a holding midfielder and in defence, and he arrives at the iPro Stadium with over 300 career games to his name at club level.

He also brings leadership qualities with him, having worn the captain’s armband at both club and international level.

Baird completed the formalities of his move this morning and becomes Derby’s fifth summer signing, following the arrivals of Darren Bent, Alex Pearce, Scott Carson and Andreas Weimann.

Head Coach Paul Clement commented: “We’re very pleased to welcome a player of Chris Baird’s experience to Derby County.

“He is an excellent professional and an important addition for us, both on the pitch and also in the dressing room.”

He added: “This is another extremely positive signing for us and we’re very pleased with the business that we have conducted in the transfer market so far this summer.”

Baird’s career began on the South Coast with Southampton during the 2002/03 season, after progressing through their youth system, and he went on to make 79 appearances for the Saints, while in just his fourth professional outing he appeared in their FA Cup Final defeat to Arsenal.

He also spent time on loan at Walsall and Watford to gain first team experience in the early years of his career before becoming a regular at St Mary’s, winning Southampton’s Player of the Season Award in the 2006/07 campaign.

In July 2007, Baird joined Fulham for a fee of just over £3 Million and during his time at Craven Cottage he made 165 appearances in all competitions, 127 of which were in the Premier League.

He proved to be a key player for Fulham, particularly under Roy Hodgson, and he was an important part of the squad that reached the Europa League Final in 2010, with Baird occupying a place in the starting line-up as the Cottagers narrowly lost 2-1 to Atletico Madrid.

After leaving Fulham, Baird spent time with Reading in the early part of the 2013/14 season before moving to Burnley in the latter stages of the campaign to help the Clarets secure promotion to the Premier League.

Baird spent last season back in the top flight at West Bromwich Albion, playing 24 times under both Alan Irvine and Tony Pulis, as he helped the Baggies secure Premier League football for another season, taking his club appearances total beyond the 300 mark in the process.

On the international stage, Baird appeared for his country for the first time at senior level in June 2003 against Italy, having represented Northern Ireland at both Under 18 and Under 21 level.

Of his 72 caps, 66 have been starts and he has been a vital part of Michael O’Neill’s current squad, which is looking to secure qualification to the 2016 European Championships. His most recent cap came only last week, in their 0-0 draw at home to Romania.

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