Derby County can perfectly replace Max Bird with excellent Barnsley deal


  •  Derby County had a successful season in League One, finishing second behind champions Portsmouth with 92 points.
  •  Max Bird is leaving the club after a loan at Bristol City, and Herbie Kane from Barnsley is a potential replacement.
  •  Kane, a versatile midfielder with an eye for goal, could fill Bird’s role effectively based on his impressive performance in League One.


Derby County look to prepare for life in the Championship following their promotion from League One.

The Rams enjoyed a fine campaign in the third tier after failing to make the play-offs the season prior. They finished second in the table on 92 points, behind only the champions Portsmouth, who were unstoppable at times.

Derby spent just two years away from the second tier, and they now look to re-establish themselves as a solid Championship side under Paul Warne. A big summer lies ahead for the club as they aim to strengthen their already talented squad.

Unfortunately, they will be going into next season without one of their key players in Max Bird, who will return to his parent club Bristol City after signing for them in January. Bird progressed through the academy at Derby and became one of their most influential players in the heart of midfield, making 200 senior appearances in total.


The 23-year-old signed for Bristol City in January but has since been on loan back at Pride Park for the remainder of the season. While Derby will look upon their academy product with immense pride, it is now time for them to find a suitable replacement ahead of a huge Championship campaign.

One man that the Rams will surely take a look at is Barnsley midfielder, Herbie Kane. The 25-year-old has been one of League One’s brightest midfielders this season, and would be a fantastic signing to replace Bird.

Herbie Kane’s Barnsley departure appears imminent

Herbie Kane of Barnsley battling with Bolton's Ricardo Santos

According to Alan Nixon, via Patreon, Herbie Kane is seeking a different challenge ahead of next season and will be departing Oakwell upon the expiration of his contract this summer. Barnsley failed to earn promotion to the Championship, as they lost out in the play-off semi-finals – seemingly the reason for Kane’s decision.

Kane’s departure on a free transfer will be a huge blow to Barnsley as he proved to be one of their most valuable players. On the other hand, this news will be golden for many clubs searching for a central midfielder this summer, as he becomes available.

One of those clubs who will surely be dying for his signature over the coming weeks and months is Championship-bound Derby. Nixon’s report stated that Derby and Paul Warne were keeping a close eye on the midfielder’s situation ahead of a potential move in the summer.

The ideal Max Bird replacement

Max Bird

Kane has spent the last four years at Barnsley, perfecting his trade in the middle of the park and even spending a season on loan with Oxford United, where he impressed many. Season by season, he has become progressively more important for the Tykes, and this season his nine goals and five assists stand him in good stead for a move to the second tier.


Herbie Kane’s league stats (last four seasons), as per Transfermarkt
Season Club Apps Goals Assists
2023/24 Barnsley 41 9 5
2022/23 Barnsley 40 4 6
2021/22 Oxford United 35 0 6
2020/21 Barnsley 24 0 0

The 25-year-old is unique in that he can play several different roles in the centre of midfield, whether it be the more defensive type or even as a ‘number ten’. He has bundles of energy and is extremely reliable in both defence and attack. This campaign, he has been a big part of one of the best units in League One, alongside the likes of Luca Connell and Adam Phillips.

Derby must prioritise Kane as their Bird replacement due to their similarities. Both possess a creative spark and an eye for goal, which has really developed for both in the last 18–24 months, while also being able to protect the back line and intercept passes from the opposition.

Bird has been crucial for the Rams for the last few seasons, so replacing him is no easy task. That said, if this season’s form is anything to go by, Kane appears to be the right man for the job, and it wouldn’t be an unachievable target.



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