Will Hughes is just getting stronger, says boss Nigel Clough
NIGEL Clough says there is no sign of talented youngster Will Hughes tiring – if anything, the 17-year-old Derby County midfielder is getting stronger and better.
The Academy product has started all but one of Derby's 16 Championship matches in what is his first season as a regular in the side.
Hughes has been on the pitch for 1,276 of the 1,440 minutes of Championship action.
He played another 90 minutes and scored in Saturday's 2-1 defeat at Millwall.
His eye-catching performances have earned him a call-up to the England Under-21 squad for the first time and he will become one of the youngest players to represent England at this level if he features in tomorrow night's international against Northern Ireland in Blackpool.
Despite the rigours and demands of playing professional football at such a young age, Clough feels the former Repton School pupil is coping well.
"Will's now played something like 16 games at Championship level, which is an awful lot for someone of his age," said the manager.
"But he is getting stronger physically and he's just improving all the time.
"He was getting tired in the early part of the season, because he hadn't played Championship football regularly, but now he's getting his strength as well and he looks to have no problem at all, physically.
"Mentally, he's an intelligent lad, so that will help."
Clough praised Hughes for his display against Millwall.
He started on the left side of a four-man midfield before his switch to a more central role saw Derby improve.
"It is that dilemma getting Will in the middle or not," said Clough. "We changed it after about 40 minutes. We got the extra man in midfield and got Will on the ball and he looked an extremely good player indeed.
"We see him playing in a central position but at the moment and for the balance of the side, we sometimes put him on the left, with a licence to come in and play.
"Someone like Will, you want him in the middle of the pitch where he gets the most of the ball.
"Potential-wise, he could be anything. He's had quite a few days but the call up to the under-21s won't faze him at all. He'll cope with it. He's coped with everything else so far in his life."