Paul Dickov reserved special praise for teenage defender Mitchell Lund after his solid league debut in Saturday’s stalemate with Fleetwood Town.
The 18-year-old right back replaced Reece Wabara, who had previously not missed a minute of league football this season.
And his competent display was unquestionably the highlight of a dour draw that mathematically ended both teams’ hopes of reaching the play-offs.
“I thought he should’ve been man of the match,” Dickov said of Lund.
“Considering it was his full league debut, I thought he was outstanding. It’s as good as I’ve seen.
“Mitchell’s a rarity with full backs these days in that first and foremost he wants to defend.
“I can’t remember their wide player getting past him once.
“He did the basics well and in the second half, when he’d grown into the game a bit more, he started supporting and getting forward a bit as well.
“I thought it was a really, really disciplined performance for a young kid.”
Despite Wabara’s one hundred per cent appearance record in the league, Dickov said it wasn’t a difficult decision to include Lund, who has shown good form for the under-21s lately.
His call-up followed recent first team appearances for fellow youngsters Liam Mandeville and Harry Middleton.
“Mitchell’s been pushing for a little bit,” said Dickov.
“I said last week we wanted to start getting some of the kids in but also be mindful that we don’t put them all in at once.
“We need to look after them a little bit.
“Behind the scenes we’ve not just been working hard with Mitchell but with other young kids.
”We’ve told them it’s important to finish the season strong and come back for pre-season and actually realise that they’re first team players now.
“They’ve had their year of being youngsters, and have had a bit of leeway, but we really want to push them through now.
“It’s not going to happen with every single one of them but we believe we’ve got a good young group here that, going forward, can make a difference.”