Doncaster Rovers: ‘If I was a left back in League One, I’d be scared of Mallik Wilks’
When Andy Butler says he is prepared to kick Mallik Wilks up the backside every day, he does so with the best of intentions.
Wilks, it has been said repeatedly, requires plenty of managing as he continues his development as a footballer.
Literal arms around the shoulder and proverbial boots to the derrière have helped the on-loan Leeds United forward to reach quite brilliant form for Rovers in recent months.
The 20-year-old has netted in each of his last three matches, and has 16 goals for the season, including a trademark solo effort in Saturday's win over Bradford City.
Veteran defender Butler revealed he takes on some of the work of making sure Wilks is in the right frame of mind.And with the forward on such exceptional form, he is happy to do so.
"As players in the dressing room at Cantley Park, we just try to keep him focused," Butler said.
"He's a honest player and he works hard.
"Sometimes you have to give him a kick up the backside.
"But if you kick him up the backside and he goes out and does what he did at Bradford then I'll kick him up the backside every night."
After a fairly impressive first half of the season, Wilks' form has only accelerated since the turn of the year.
The striker himself puts his progress down to continued learning on the job.
But Butler is convinced the driving force has been Wilks' growing belief in his own abilities.
"I think he's grown up," he said.
"I think he's maturing as a player and actually seeing what he can do.
"If I was a left back in this league I'd be scared of him because of the sheer power of the lad.
“He’s so strong for a 20-year-old. He just bats people off. It’s incredible and he’s got a sledgehammer of a left foot.
“On and off the pitch you know what you’re getting from him.
“People may say is he consistent enough but for us he is definitely.
“I think he can take those next steps.
"Once he gets that self-belief he can be some player."
Self-belief is something which boss Grant McCann strongly professes, as does stalwart James Coppinger.
And Butler says it extends beyond being encouraged in youngsters such as Wilks.
"We all try to big up Mallik every day and the same goes for everyone," he said.
"It's about the self-belief in the group.
"Copps is massive on that mindset and everyone buys into that.
"Rather than someone saying you're not good at this and that, someone saying you're amazing at that.
"Imagine how it feels coming into training in that environment.
"And in the games it shows."