Rochdale manager Keith Hill knows a thing or two about bringing through talented young players.
He gave a young John Stones his debut at Barnsley, while Craig Dawson, currently of West Bromwich Albion, came through the ranks at Rochdale under his stewardship.
Hill handed a start to Daniel Adshead earlier this month, the Gorton student becoming Rochdale’s youngest ever debutant at just sixteen years and seventeen days old.
The Dale chief will continue to trust young players as long as they repay his faith in them on the pitch.
“As a manager I like working with players who pay me back for opportunities with energy, intelligence, commitment and pride,” he said.
“Dan Adshead is one of those players who does that – he’s grateful and respectful for the opportunity.
“He sees the big picture, it’s about winning, not showboating. He’s intelligent.
“Dan’s character reflects a winning mentality and that’s all you ask for as a manager.’
Adshead got off to a fine start in a Rochdale shirt, getting an assist as Rochdale ran out 4-0 winners at Gigg Lane against Bury in the Checkatrade Trophy on Sept 19.
Hill was impressed with what he saw.
“It was special for me because I put my trust in Dan and he paid me back,” he commented.
“He could be a special player, but we can’t put too much pressure on him.
“He’ll be available for us in the next Checkatrade Trophy fixture and as long as we stay in the competition, Dan will play because he deserves it.
“I’ve been so impressed with him since he started training with us that I wanted to reward him with an appearance in the Checkatrade Trophy last year, but we weren’t given permission by the FA because he fell outside the age requirements.
“We had to wait a full season, and in that time we’ve been training him carefully and specifically so that he is available for the first-team when required.
“It will be a natural progression for Dan. I do believe that whatever Dan wants to do in football he is more than capable of achieving.”
The Rochdale boss is a firm believer in the mantra of ‘if you’re good enough, you’re old enough’ and is always on the lookout for young talent.
“We’re constantly in dialogue with the coaches about who we can fast track and who we can’t. I’m a progressive manager – I give players opportunities as a reward for working hard, regardless of their age.”
Rochdale are unbeaten in their past three encounters and face a trip to AFC Wimbledon this afternoon (3pm ko).
Image courtesy of Official Rochdale AFC via YouTube, with thanks.