Derby County midfielder Will Hughes has been left shocked by the progress he’s made in such a short time at Pride Park.
He described his rise from the Rams youth team into a regular starter for his club and the England Under 21 side has been ‘amazing’.
The 17-year-old told BBC East Midlands that he was only hoping to make a few odd appearances from the bench this season but has been blown away by his progress.
The youngster picked up the Football League Young Player of the Month for November and well deserved his honour.
He joined Derby as a first year scholar in 2011 and quickly established himself within the youth team.
On 5th November 2011 he made his first-team debut against Peterborough as a 16-year-old and has never looked back since.
He has played in every game this season for Derby and has scored twice as well as becoming the second youngest ever England Under 21 international (after Theo Walcott) when he came on against Northern Ireland in November.
He comes from the same generation of Rams youngsters that includes Mason Bennett, who has slightly dropped out the limelight since becoming Derby’s youngest ever player at 15 years old.
Stuart Pearce spoke of Hughes fondly, saying: “Will’s technically a very sound player. He rarely gave the ball away in training or in the game he played [against Northern Ireland], which is vitally important at international level. He’s progressing really well.”
Derby County’s Academy Director Darren Walsall agrees with Pearce: “For a 17-year-old to be playing in the first team of a Championship side is very unusual. I bet there are not many 17-year-olds playing at the level Will is week in, week out.”