Max Bird is determined to keep improving and pushing for more first-team appearances after signing fresh terms with Derby County until the summer of 2022.
The 18-year-old midfielder has featured seven times for the Rams’ first-team this season and now has a permanent spot in the senior dressing room at the Training Ground, which has been his ‘second home’ since he was nine-years-old.
“It was a no brainer for me to sign the contract, having the season that I have had and just wanting to keep improving and keeping my head down,” Bird told RamsTV.
“This is my second home, I’ve been here for around eight years now.”
He added: “It is about coming in every day and having the mindset to work hard and trying to keep improving.
“I am a big believer in if you work hard, you get your rewards at the end of it.”
The Academy product’s hard work earned him his Sky Bet Championship debut in a 2-1 victory over Swansea City, his first start at Pride Park Stadium against Premier League side Southampton and full Championship bow this season against Aston Villa in the space of three months.
Bird says he is grateful of the faith that manager Frank Lampard has shown in him and he is eager to soak up as much advice and from the coaching staff and his team-mates as he can.
“I’m not sure if I was expecting it all to come in such a short space of time, but I am thankful that it has and grateful that the manager has believed in me,” Bird said.
“Being with the first-team is what you dream of when you come to the club when you are ten-years-old. There was only one thing on my mind when I came here. I wanted to play for the first-team and get some games.
“Next season is a big season; I have to come back fitter and stronger and we will see where it takes me.”
He added: “The manager has been brilliant with me, on and off the field. He has helped me with my shooting, which was a weak point in my game. We stay out after training and do some drills a couple of times a week and he talks to me after about technique.
“When he has put me in he has just told me to enjoy it and be confident, that does give me a lot of confidence knowing that Frank Lampard is believing in you.”
Bird has juggled his involvement with the first-team by featuring heavily with the Under-23s, where he regularly wears the captain’s armband, as well as the Under-18s on a handful of occasions.
He says his mindset doesn’t change when he switches between squads and continues to take lessons no matter the level.
He said: “I have loved every minute of this season. Whether I have played in the Youth Cup with the scholars, in the Under-23s or the first-team.
“Both the Under-18s and Under-23s’ teams are a great bunch of lads and we were really disappointed after the Manchester City defeat in the FA Youth Cup, but we went into the changing room and said that it is a learning curve and we have got to bounce back. They have got a chance to win the league.
“The support that I have had is unbelievable around the club. I get along with everyone and that is just as good as putting in a performance in the team, knowing that you are coming in to an environment where you can enjoy yourself every day is a big influence on what you do on the pitch.”