Derby County tie up rising star Will Hughes on new contract
DERBY County's talented young midfielder Will Hughes has signed a new deal.
The 17-year-old penned his first professional contract in March and now he has committed his future to the club until the summer of 2015.
Hughes, a former Repton School pupil, is a product of the Academy.
He made his debut as a substitute at Peterborough in November last year and his first start came when Posh visited Pride Park in the final game of last season.
This season, he has started all but one of the 10 Championship matches and is set to face Blackburn Rovers today.
Hughes' progress has delighted manager Nigel Clough.
"We want to try to keep our best young players at the club as long as we can and Will certainly fits into that category," said Clough.
"But we don't want to place too much on his shoulders.
"He has played only 10 games or so and it is very early days in his career.
"As well as he has done, there is a lot of hard work ahead for him.
"We have seen an awful lot of players – and I don't think Will falls into this category – go off the rails or whatever at a young age but this contract is not about money, it is about playing football and that's the nice thing.
"If he gets the next two years right, everything else will follow."
Hughes is emerging at a time when English football is crying out for players who are comfortable on the ball.
The England Under-17 international shows great composure and awareness in the hurly-burly of the Championship. He rarely gives the ball away.
All the big Premier League clubs are aware of his potential and Clough believes Hughes' style of play is almost that of a continental player.
"We tend to think of English midfielders as up-and-down, box-to-box midfielders who head it and tackle," said Clough.
"Will does his fair share of that, but he can play. His intelligence and his composure shine through.
"It flies in the face of all this new EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan) stuff where they want do strength and fitness testing for nine-year-olds and things like that.
"Sometimes in games Will doesn't even register on our Prozone sprinting stats but he can play football and it shouldn't be measured in any other way."
Hughes is grateful to Clough for giving him a chance in the first team.
"I am loving every minute in the first-team and it has been an amazing last few months," he said.
"First and foremost, I love playing football and I've been given a great opportunity here by the manager and his staff.
"I know there's a lot of hard work ahead of me but I'm fully committed to getting my head down, working hard and continuing to improve my game.
"It may be a little bit of a cliche but it really is a dream come true for me and I'm grateful for being given this chance."