Midfielder Graeme Shinnie knows he will have to work hard and continue the high standards set right across the squad in order to maintain his place in the Derby County first-team.
The 28-year-old, who was speaking ahead of the trip to Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday night, had enjoyed a sustained period of time in the starting squad in the Autumn before he picked up a hamstring injury against Preston North End in a 1-0 win back in November.
That injury ruled Shinnie out for two months and in that time, the Rams have seen Wayne Rooney arrive and make an immediate impact, whilst Max Bird’s impressive emergence into the first-team has made him become a regular on the teamsheet.
It was always going to be difficult to displace those in the squad, especially due to their good form, but an injury to Duane Holmes has opened the door for Shinnie to earn back his place in the starting line-up.
He made his return as a substitute in the 4-0 victory over Stoke City at Pride Park Stadium last month, whilst he made his first league start since November in the 1-1 draw against Fulham on Friday night.
And the midfielder is under no illusions that he needs to maintain the high standards set in midfield and is relishing the opportunity.
“They have both been absolutely brilliant,” he told RamsTV. “Obviously, everyone knows about Wayne, what he has done in his career and the qualities that he has got and the massive lift he gave us when he came to the club.
“I think you see by the results since he has come in, they have been good. Birdy, as well, for a young boy to come in from not playing and to do as well as he has is excellent because his form has been brilliant.
“It has been good to come in and join them now as a three is good and hopefully we can build up a bit of a relationship.
“Before I got injured me and Krystian Bielik built that up a little bit but it is different now. Those two are playing well so I need to make sure that my standard gets up to that and I can help them as much as they will help me.
“I think the way the two of them play suits me down to a tee. They are both very comfortable on the ball.
“You can give them the ball whenever they want, and they work hard and give their all. It was quite easy for me to come in and be playing alongside them.
“I need to make sure my game is at the highest possible standard that it can be. I will get better as the games go on and I get more match fitness.”