GARY Rowett believes Alex MacDonald – like Billy Kee – is reaping the rewards of his hard work on the training ground.
The 23-year-old winger has been going in early for extra training and his attitude has impressed the manager.
“Over the last two or three weeks he’s been in training early in the mornings doing extra sessions,” said Rowett.
“The thing for him is he’s now started to see the fruits of his labour.
“He’s starting to look stronger and fitter and is having more impact on the game.”
Kee, who has three goals in the last two games, is looking leaner and fitter and MacDonald is also working hard to improve that side of his game.
“I’ve been really pleased with his response,” said Rowett. “With Al, he’s done a similar thing to Bill – he’s come back and recognised that he needed, not to train harder as such, but needed to do certain things to be effective for us as a player.
“As a player he’s got lots to improve and has still got lots of potential.
“We’re hopeful we can get that out of him.”
MacDonald’s attitude to the cause can be summed up with a brilliant tackle on Matt McClure in Saturday’s 2-1 win at Wycombe.
Wingers are not usually known for their tackling ability, but the summer signing from Burnley loves a tackle.
“His attitude defensively has always been excellent as a winger,” said Rowett.
“For him to be at his most effective he needs to do that defensive work and support us in attack.
“It’s all a by-product of him being much fitter and working harder in training.
“For me, having a winger who defends well is invaluable.
“Wingers are known more for their creativity than for their hard work and defending.
“But I played with some good wingers during my career.
“One that springs to mind is Jon McCarthy at Birmingham.
“He would help out with the defending and make your life so much easier as a full-back.”
Now, Rowett just wants to see MacDonald get on the scoresheet for the first time this season, backing the winger to get more if he gets off the mark.
So far, he has been unlucky, hitting the woodwork with a couple of free kicks and missing a one-on-one at Cheltenham.
“I still think in the attacking third, if he can stick one in the top corner he will grow and score more goals,” said the manager.
“He gets into some excellent positions.
“We just need to get him doing that a little bit better.
“I still believe he can be a big asset for us - and beyond. He’s got lots of quality.
“He just needs a little bit of luck in front of goal.”