Birmingham City: Ethan Laird is Wayne Rooney's 'cheat code' to Blues' United way

Birmingham City summer signing Ethan Laird says he is finding it easier to fit in with Wayne Rooney's preferred way to play the game of football, as he has experienced it before.

Laird, now 22, began his career with Manchester United and, although he only made two first-team appearances, once had the honour of training with Rooney.

"I trained with him when I was 15 or 16," Laird told BBC Radio WM.

"A couple of us went up with the first team and I got to see him training."

Laird recalls: "You could see his mentality. He was really on it, putting tackles in.

"And that's what he's trying to implement here. He's the perfect match for us and it's about listening to him and doing what he wants us to do.

"I'm a bit of a cheat code as I went through the Manchester United process, so I understand what he wants and I'm trying to to help the lads."

The understanding of introducing the old United way at St Andrew's, under Birmingham manager Rooney, was made a lot easier to fathom by the overall performance Blues gave in Saturday's 2-2 home draw with second-placed Ipswich Town.

After starting with three straight morale-sapping defeats under Rooney, this was a game Blues nearly won and should have won - but which also finally won over a home crowd still doubting the process that had brought in the ex-England captain at the expense of popular previous Blues boss John Eustace.

Despite the disappointment of shipping two goals in the final 11 minutes of normal time to Ipswich sub Marcus Harness, it could still come to be considered as the defining, corner-turning performance for Blues under Rooney.

"We were the better team," said Laird. "But, in football, stuff happens.

"We showed glimpses. There is a process in place and we're going to get there.

"Nothing was ever going to happen overnight. But the gaffer wants us to play more football.

"If we're to go to the places we want to get to, it's a challenge - and we have to rise to that challenge and show the right mentality.

"The one thing he wants us to be is brave. If we're brave enough to press teams, we'll get results. It's about running over teams and showing how dominant we can be."

It was also a personal triumph for Laird, who made his comeback after two and a half months out with injury.

Just three games into his Blues career, following his £750,000 move from United after a season's loan at QPR, Laird suffered a hamstring strain in the 2-0 win at Bristol City on 19 August - followed by an injury setback in training in September which meant he never played again until Eustace had been replaced by Rooney.

"It's been a long road, a lot of blood, a lot of sweat and a lot of tears," he said. "But it was great to be back."

Blues, who will be without the suspended Krystian Bielik at Tony Mowbray's Sunderland on Saturday, remain without three other summer arrivals - striker Tyler Roberts, who lasted just 61 minutes of his debut at Swansea, Lee Buchanan (ankle) and Keshi Anderson (hamstring), who have both been out now for almost two months.

But they do at least have a lucky charm in Laird.

Having been substituted when Blues were 1-0 up on the opening day at Swansea and then just a minute before Ipswich scored on Saturday - and having won the other two games he has played in without his side conceding - Laird is yet be out on the pitch when his side have shipped a goal.

Ethan Laird was talking to BBC Radio WM's Richard Wilford