Midfielder Max Bird was pleased to be back in the starting line-up on Saturday as Derby County secured a third straight victory - and he hopes the Rams can extend that run tomorrow night as they face a trip to the New York Stadium to face Rotherham United (7pm kick off).
Derby made it three wins out of three at the weekend after a third successive 1-0 victory saw Wayne Rooney’s side rise to 18th in the Sky Bet Championship table.
Colin Kazim-Richards, like he did against Queens Park Rangers the week before, scored the only goal of the game as the Rams secured all three points at Pride Park Stadium against Bristol City.
The result saw back-to-back home victories for the Rams for the first time this season, following the win against AFC Bournemouth in mid-January, which is much-needed following a run of disappointing results at Pride Park this season.
Bird, who came on in the second half in the 1-0 victory at the Kiyan Prince Stadium nine days ago, made his first start in over a month on Saturday and excelled in the middle of the park.
The midfielder has been in and out of the side so far this season but was pleased to help the Rams record a valuable three points.
“It was a good performance from the boys,” he told RamsTV. “It was a big win; every game is big for us now and there is another big one coming up for us tomorrow. Saturday was a good performance and hopefully we take that into the game.
“It has been a difficult start to the season for the whole team, but we are improving and we have been excellent at keeping clean sheets. We are enjoying defending at the minute with is a positive for us.
“We have just got to take it game-by-game. We don’t want to look too far ahead or look at the league table too much. We have got to take each match as it comes and it is going to be a difficult game at Rotherham.
“We are probably looking to get one back on them, they beat us at our place recently. We will try and get a win on Tuesday night and move on to the next one. We can’t be looking too far ahead because we will get caught up in things.”
Bird’s appearance on Saturday was his first start since the goalless draw against Stoke City in mid-December. He admits it has been a tough couple of weeks but he knows he needs to keep a level of consistency to remain in the team.
“The past couple of weeks have been difficult for myself,” he admitted. “There has been frustration, but I looked myself in the mirror a couple of weeks ago and said to myself that I know what I need to do to get back into the team.
“I got my head down, didn’t say much, worked hard in training and in the gym and it paid off at the weekend. Now it is about keeping the shirt, something that I didn’t manage to do earlier on this season when I was in and out of the team.
“That doesn’t really help you when you can’t really get any consistency going, so it is up to me now to keep that shirt and get that run of games.”
Following the arrival of Wayne Rooney as a player to Pride Park Stadium in January 2020, the pair formed a formidable partnership in midfield as the Rams’ form improved in the second half of the 2019/20 campaign.
Since then, however, Rooney has made the step up to become the manager of the club whilst Bird has had to wait patiently for his chance to get back into the side following the impressive form of Krystian Bielik, Graeme Shinnie and Jason Knight.
Adapting their relationship from team-mates to the boss has not been an issue for Bird and he believes Rams boss Rooney has instilled confidence into the whole team.
“Our relationship is very similar, if I am being honest,” Bird said. “Wayne has got the same mindset, same attitude in management as he had as a player. He is still a fantastic leader, obviously he has taken up a different role and now a leader off the pitch, but all the lads are working very hard for him and I think you can see that in the team.
“We have been good at defending and keeping clean sheets, now it’s about trying to score more goals and how we use the ball a bit better. We are working on that every day in training. As long as we keep getting these results, I am sure we will be ok.
“I have got a very good relationship with him. We had conversations when I wasn’t in the team and he spoke to me after the game on Saturday as well. I know what he expects from me and I think he has got a good relationship with all the other lads as well.”