Phillip Cocu says teenager Max Bird has seized the opportunity to impress in the Derby County midfield in recent weeks.
Bird, who is 19, has made 13 appearances in all competitions so far this season for the Rams.
The Academy graduate has been a regular in Cocu’s starting line-up since the closing stages of December.
His composed performances in the middle of the park have been impressive and, speaking after Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Huddersfield Town, the Derby boss is happy with the progress of the youngster.
“Max came into the side and seized the opportunity; he plays good and keeps playing good football combined with a good mentality,” Cocu told RamsTV.
“When you look at his age, it is just great to see him playing this way for the club.
“It is just a pleasure to see him play.”
Bird has predominantly been using in a holding midfield role so far this season.
However, he is also capable of making an impact further up the pitch.
He has played his part in some key goals for the side during his spell in the starting XI, notably laying on an assist for Jason Knight’s winner against Charlton in Derby’s final game of 2019.
Bird was utilised further forward in the weekend’s draw with Huddersfield after Duane Holmes was forced off with an ankle injury.
Speaking about the tactical change, Cocu said: “When Graeme Shinnie came on, he is an even more of holding midfielder than Max and likes to pick up second balls.
“That gave Max a little bit more possibility to go forward and use forward passing, which he is capable of doing.”