DOMINIC Knowles has played his way right into Gary Rowett's mind for a place in Burton Albion's starting side.
The 22-year-old striker showed patience last season as he was the junior member of the club's striking department.
But Rowett says he has come on leaps and bounds over the summer and is now up with Stuart Beavon, Billy Kee and Adam McGurk for a place in the side.
"He's going to make it very difficult for some of the other strikers to get into the team," said Rowett, who signed the former Burnley youth from Harrogate Town in March last year.
"And that's through what he's doing.
"If you don't judge someone on what they've done in the past, if you judge someone on what they're doing at the moment, then you'd say he's right up there with all the other strikers.
"Like I said, he's created chances, he's been tidy, he's trying to get into the box, he's trying to do the right things for us."
Knowles has the potential to be a real goal poacher at League Two level.
"He gets chances, Knowlesy, that's the biggest thing and the biggest compliment I can pay him," said Rowett.
"You look at all the pre-season games and he gets chances.
"You never question his work rate or his hold-up play and his desire to do the right thing for the team – and he gets chances.
"He did it all last season when we had a reserve or development game and he would score goals.
"I really believe he will score goals this season."
Knowles is also benefiting from living locally with big pal, and fellow former Burnley trainee, Alex MacDonald.
"Last season he was travelling down from the north," said Rowett. "This season he's moved down and him and Alex MacDonald have got a flat together and stay down here.
"I'm sure that game of tiddly winks is very exciting of an evening!
"But seriously, they've both benefited from that better preparation for the games.
"I think that's important for them and they've both showed improvement so far in many ways from last year."
Knowles is also keen to learn all the time.
"He comes in at half-time and speaks about where does he need to be defensively," said Rowett. "He's keen and is one of these kids who will always stay out and do extra in training."