Max Bird and Louie Sibley have today committed their long-term futures to Derby County by signing contract extensions.
The Academy graduates have put pen-to-paper on deals which will both run until the summer of 2024.
The duo have impressively stepped up from the club’s youth set-up to become important members of manager Phillip Cocu’s first-team squad over the last 12 months.
Bird and Sibley, alongside fellow youngsters Jason Knight, Morgan Whittaker and Lee Buchanan, built on an historic 2018/19 title-winning campaign at Under-18 level by enjoying their breakthrough seasons in 2019/20.
Central midfielder Bird, who celebrates his 20th birthday on Friday, enjoyed a positive second half of the season and his fine form was rewarded with the Sammy Crooks Young Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year accolades.
Attacking midfielder Sibley, 19, made his first-team bow last season and netted the Rams’ Goal of the Season with a superb long-range strike against Blackburn Rovers on his full league debut, while he also netted an impressive hat-trick at Millwall in June.
Offering his reaction to the news, Cocu said: “We are delighted to tie Max and Louie down to these long-term contracts at Derby County.
“It is something they deserve. Both the players and the club can be extremely happy with this news.
“For us as a club, I think it is important to show the youngsters that they don’t always have to wait until the last moment to talk about their contract. They have played well; they are important for the team and we have them on long-term deals.”
Bird, who has captained Derby in recent weeks with Wayne Rooney out of action due to injury, said: “I have been at this club since I was ten years old and I am delighted to get this contract signed.
“I took steps in the right direction last season and now I want to continue in that way and cement my place in the team.”
He added: “I want to keep developing my game, become more of a leader on and off the pitch and help the team to challenge at the top end of the table.”
Sibley, who turned 19 last weekend, said: “I grew up supporting the club, so I am really happy to sign this new contract.
“I just want to continue to work hard and push myself to remain part of the team. I want to be a key player and after signing this new contract, it is time to kick on again.”
He added: “I am really proud to play for Derby County.”
Bird has made 38 appearances at first-team level for Derby, after he initially made his professional debut as a 16-year-old back in 2017 in the Carabao Cup,
He made a handful of first-team appearances under former manager Frank Lampard in 2018/19, during which time he was named as the EFL’s Apprentice of the Year, but he has flourished under Cocu and was a regular in the Rams’ side in the second half of last season.
Sibley has made 20 first-team appearances for Derby and recorded his first senior outing, also in the Carabao Cup, at the beginning of last season at Scunthorpe United.
A handful of appearances in the Emirates FA Cup followed in early 2020 and, after a superb full league bow against Blackburn Rovers prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, he remained a key member of the side when the season resumed in June.