STEVE McClaren says Jake Buxton has made great strides this season.
Ex-Burton Albion stopper Buxton has been named player of the year by the Derby County Supporters’ Clubs.
The 29-year-old centre back has proved a rock at the heart of the Rams defence and his form has delighted McClaren.
“Jake won the award by a landslide, I heard, and credit to him,” said the head coach.
“He is what you call an ideal professional, kind of old school – low maintanence, gets on with his work, and you know what you are going to get day in, day out.
“He’s got that kind of old school honesty that should never go out of the game.
“Jake is a winner. He wants to win, and is playing well.
“His performances have been excellent, not just that but his leadership on and off the field, in the dressing room and around the place.
“He has really improved since the first day we came in.”
Some supporters questioned whether or not Buxton would be good enough to make an impact at Derby following his free transfer from Albion in 2009, but he has silenced his critics.
He has made 126 appearances for the club and is established along with Richard Keogh in the first-choice centre-back partnership.
His contribution this season has been key in helping the Rams reach the Championship’s top six.
“Bucko has been a rock at the back, along with Richard Keogh,” said McClaren.
“He did not start the first couple of games after we arrived but he trained hard, got his opportunity against Watford and has not looked back.”
Buxton replaced the injured Zak Whitbread after 33 minutes of the 3-2 victory at Watford on October 19 and has made 31 consecutive starts since.