SHANDON Baptiste vowed to keep his feet firmly on the ground after his meteoric rise was rewarded with a long-term contract.

The midfielder has gone from fringe player to one of the first names on the teamsheet in the space of a few weeks.

And United have moved swiftly, tying him down to a deal which lasts until 2023.

But Baptiste is not about to get carried away – knowing exactly what got him this far.

He said: “I do get excited, but I have to stay grounded because I haven’t done much.

“This is just a couple of games, I could easily come out of the team next week. I have to keep myself grounded to keep on working to stay in the team.

“I’ve never come from a high level that should put me ahead of people.

“I’ve always had to work hard for what I’ve wanted, so this is what I’ll carry on doing.”

Baptiste is used to fighting for his future at United.

His career looked to be over before it had got off the ground when he dislocated his shoulder twice during the final year of his scholarship.

Fortunately the U’s had seen enough to offer a six-month professional contract to prove his fitness.

Baptiste took the opportunity, earning a new deal last December before going out on loan to Hampton & Richmond to gain experience.

He hit the ground running in pre-season, with boss Karl Robinson admitting Baptiste’s displays had given him “food for thought”.

Opportunities in the first team followed – and despite the team struggling to get results, the youngster has stood out.

He said: “The gaffer has shown confidence in me and now I’ve just got to show confidence in myself to carry on playing well.

“I came back in pre-season with the right mindset and that helped me a lot. I think I’ve done well so far, but I’ve still got a lot more to prove.”

The performances have not gone unnoticed on the terraces and the appreciation is mutual.

“The fans have been great since the first game I played,” he said.

“My family said the fans sing a song about me.

“I’m grateful they do that for me, hopefully I can keep putting in performances they like week-in, week-out.

“That’s never happened to me before.

“To be fair I’ve not heard it yet, but for them to do that means a lot.

“All I can say is thank you.”