PRE BOLTON

Telegraph-sport

WILL Hughes is really warming to his role in the team.

He made his 100th appearance in the Capital One Cup victory over Reading – remarkable given he is only 19 – and I think he is showing his best form so far since breaking into the side.

He has played this many games so early in his career because he has so much to offer, even at such a young age. He can control a game, he can make a pass and he can score a goal.

His awareness and ability on the ball is clear to see. He is an outstanding talent.

Watching the game against Cardiff City at the weekend, you could tell after only five minutes he was going to play well.

Turn the clock back, and I recall there being talk within the club of a 15-year-old who was impressing, a player with class and confidence, and more than anything an awareness on the pitch.

Nigel Clough handed Will his first start in the final game of the 2011-12 season against Peterborough United. Will shone, and since then we have seen his quality.

There has been some inconsistency, which you expect from a young player, but also fantastic talent.

He was named in the Championship team of the year at the end of last season and has received a lot of accolades.

What is he like as a character off the pitch?

He is quiet, but pretty confident.

He is a bright lad and well-grounded which you have to be in his position given all the expectation and transfer talk that has surrounded him in the last couple of years.

There always seems to be talk of big Premier League clubs coming in for him but he is keen to stay at Derby as long as he can and learn his trade here, which is great for Derby County.

He has got the ability to step up and it is only a matter of time before we him in the Premier League, either with Derby or another club.

I’m sure he has aspirations to play at the top level. When you have got his ability, you have to look to do that.

But things are working out really well for him here at Derby.

He is playing in front of 25,000 to 30,000 every week.

He played for a team that was in and around the top 10 two seasons ago and for a team that finished third last season and went so close to winning promotion.

Now he is in a team that is seen as one of the favourites to go up this season.

There is no doubt he has benefitted from playing regularly.

Had he gone to Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United or Liverpool would he have played 100 games by now?

Extremely doubtful.

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