Chris Baird is relishing the prospect of a reunion with old club Fulham this weekend.
Baird is set to line up at right-back for Derby County against his former employers at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
Fulham remains a club that is close to the 34-year-old’s heart. He joined the Whites from Southampton in a £3m-plus deal and between 2007 and 2013, he made 165 appearances for the West London club, securing their highest-ever league finish and reaching the Europa League final.
The former Northern Ireland international returned for a second spell at Fulham during the second half of last season, making seven appearances on loan from Derby.
“I had a large portion of my career there and I loved every minute of it,” said Baird. “I had such a really great time there and they are a great club. I’ve still got a lot of friends there, so it will be nice to go back again. It’s a club that’s close to my heart and I always enjoy going back there and seeing some familiar faces.
“I know I was there on loan last season but going to play against them is a bit different. I’m expecting a tough game but, hopefully, I’ll get a warm welcome!”
Baird was grateful for last season’s loan spell at Fulham, which allowed him to build his match fitness ahead of Euro 2016, where he was part of the Northern Ireland squad.
“I just needed to get out,” he said. “The Euros were coming up and I needed to get out and play a few games leading up to that. I did that and I thank the club for letting me go out and get a few games before that tournament. That was the main reason, really.”