Mark Hughes is full of praise for teenage defender Ross Sykes who has started every league game of the 2018/19 campaign so far.
The 19-year-old came through the Academy ranks at the Wham Stadium and has established himself in the first team so far this season with a number of higher clubs casting admiring glances at the centre-half.
And Hughes says he has been impressed with Sykes.
“It’s not easy, aged 19, coming into this league but he is getting better with every game,” said Hughes.
“He came back after the summer with a lot more belief, he had the belief he could do it and, to be honest, he came back as a man.
“He has grown up and has started to believe in himself.
“He has learnt to talk more in games and, I explained to him, talking during games makes your job easier and he has found that.
“It’s quite unique here in that defenders get a lot of time on the ball as we pass out from the back and so he is getting time and also, another thing which has impressed me is the responsibility he now takes.
“If he makes a mistake, he keeps going, his head doesn’t go down and that’s a great asset at his age.”
There is a battle in defence with John Coleman recently adding loan signings Nick Anderton and Michael Ihiekwe to his squad.
“The gaffer keeps bringing players in and you know they are good players but I don’t want to give up my place.
“I train and play like it’s my last game, almost. I know that if I am not picked in the team then I could be out for 20 games so I know I have to be at the top of my game all the time. If I have an off-game, there are good players there to take my place.
“But I do still relish the competition – it’s only good for Accrington Stanley.”