The 20-year-old has started every game for Doncaster Rovers so far this season in the midfield holding role following his loan move from Chelsea.
Luke McCullough had made that key position his own prior to suffering a season-ending knee injury in pre-season.
But Houghton has shown signs this week of really growing into the role - and the England Under 20 international is keen to repay Ferguson’s faith.
“The manager’s chucked me straight in at the deep end as such and I can only thank him for that,” said Houghton.
“He’s trusted me and put me in the midfield holding role when a lot of managers would look for an experienced player in that kind of position.
“He’s said to me he wants me to get on the ball, dictate it, try and break play up and take risks if possible.
“He wants me to just play my own game, which is good for someone like myself. It’s good to be a young player and have a manager that can trust you. It gives you confidence for the future.”
Houghton says the type of physical contest Rovers are expecting today at Cheltenham is vital for his development.
He said: “In this league there’s a few teams that want to play and there’s others that don’t. They want to go long and be a bit physical, and that’s their strengths. We’ve got to adapt.
“Obviously the lower you go down the leagues you find it more physical and it’s a bit more about putting your foot in. I think I can do both sides of the game. It’s good for your development to be playing against physical players and it can only make you man up to be honest.”