Derby County manager Phillip Cocu has spoken highly of academy talent Max Bird to Rams TV after admitting the midfielder struggled earlier on in the campaign.

Bird has been one of the standouts for Derby’s U23s over the past 18 months.

Former manager Frank Lampard gave him his first Championship start last season. However, the youngster endured a difficult afternoon in a 4-0 defeat at Aston Villa.

(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images).

Cocu admits Bird struggled early on this season. But, after some superb displays for the U23s, the Rams boss feels the midfielder is showing plenty of positive signs again.

Sometimes you help by putting your arm around them for confidence. For Max Bird, the start of the season was tough. We know the reasons why, but he struggled. So, we helped and supported him. For the last month and half, I’ve seen him enjoying his training. It’s unbelievable the level he shows, the confidence and talent.

Phillip Cocu has taken a keen interest in Derby’s academy since joining this season. He has already spoken about his three-year development plan.

Those training with the senior squad such as Max Bird, Louie Sibley, Morgan Whittaker, Lee Buchanan and Jason Knight may feature in stages this season. Next year they have been tipped to play around 15-20 games. By year three, they could be first-team regulars.

Bird was seemingly on the verge of breaking through to the first team. Cocu explains a drop back down to the U23s, however, is part of the learning curve.

The Rams U23 side are currently joint top of the Premier League 2 division. Last week, they showed their potential with a 7-1 thrashing of Leeds United.

(Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images).

The future is certainly bright for Derby’s top academy stars. And, under former PSV boss Cocu, they will certainly be given a path to a potential first team spot.

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