When you are getting praise from Gianfranco Zola, you know you are doing something right.
And now Paul Keegan is being held up as a shining example to Rovers’ fringe players by boss Paul Dickov.
The Irishman has made the central midfield berth alongside Richie Wellens his own after starting the season on the fringes.
Keegan is enjoying probably his best spell since his arrival at the club and was singled out by Watford boss Zola in a post-game chat with Dickov on Tuesday night.
“Gianfranco Zola was raving about him after the game the other night,” Dickov said.
“It’s ok me telling him how good he’s been but when you’re getting praise off someone like Zola who’s saying what an influence you are on the team, that speaks volumes.
“Paul has been for a revelation for everybody.
“I can’t speak highly enough of him as a person and his attitude.
“At the start of the season he wasn’t in the team but he’s got his head down and done what he does best which is training hard and giving the best of his ability playing football.
“He’s got his chance and he’s got better with every game.
“We’ve wanted to create competition for places here and we’re doing that.
“Paul is an example of being ready to take your chance and refusing to let go when you’re in there.
“He concentrates so much on what he’s good at and he does it really effectively.”
Dickov revealed Keegan has been handed a specially designed training programme to ensure he stays fit after a series of injuries blighted his early Rovers career.
One player Keegan is currently ahead of in the Rovers pecking order is David Syers, who netted twice for the development squad in Wednesday’s nights 6-0 win over Scunthorpe United.
While Dickov admits he would like to send players out on loan for game time, Syers is not currently on his list.
The Rovers boss also confirmed Billy Paynter had turned down the chance to join a League One club on loan.
He said: “We’re more than happy with the squad we’ve got and the attitude of the players to keep them here rather than sending them out.
“If clubs do show and interest we’ll sit down and decide whether it’s best for the player and the club.
“A League One club came in for Billy Paynter, I spoke to him but he wants to stay and fight for a place which is fantastic.
“You want the fringe players to get game time in them but if they want to stay and they believe in what we’re doing that’s great.
“If you’ve got that attitude, we want to encourage it.”