GARY Rowett reckons Billy Kee could be the best striker in the bottom two divisions after he fired Burton Albion to an excellent win at Wycombe Wanderers.
The 22-year-old cracked a brilliant opening goal at Adams Park on Saturday before winning and converting a penalty in the 2-1 win.
Rowett does not want to put too much pressure on his fitter-than-ever frontman – but thinks Albion have a genuine jewel in their crown.
“I’ll be honest – I wouldn’t swap him for any other striker in this division and probably the division up,” said the Brewers boss.
“I think he’s the best striker in the bottom two divisions on his day. I really don’t think there’s a limit to him.
“I see players playing in the Championship no better than him on his day. What he has to do is consistently produce it and get a run.”
Kee is reaping the benefits of his much-improved fitness and Rowett is impressed with his response to what was asked of him in the summer.
“Last season I didn’t start him as much as he would’ve liked,” admitted the Albion chief, who left striker Rene Howe out of his matchday squad on Saturday.
“I spoke to Billy in the summer and told him he was going to be a key player.
“You’re seeing the fruit of his hard work. He’s more mobile and willing to run for the team.
“He’s really grasped what we’re all about - I don’t want to put too much pressure on him, but he’s been fantastic in the last two games.
“Plus he’s fun to have around the place and that’s part of the battle sometimes.
“It’s having players in your team and in your squad who will work hard for each other and enjoy themselves.
“I thought today the individuals up front and in and around those areas worked hard for each other and I thought that was evident.”
It was a much-improved performance from Albion as they built on the 2-2 draw with Scunthorpe United.
Defensively they were sound, with the only blot a late goal from Wycombe’s Matt McClure to deny the back four and goalkeeper a deserved clean sheet.
“On the whole it was probably our most controlled performance of the season, both defensively and in attack,” said Rowett.
“You can see what a difference the likes of Billy makes. That’s three goals in two games and Adam McGurk and Billy worked very well as a partnership today.
“It’s really pleasing.
“Overall, I felt the balance of the team was a little bit better today and a bit more focused.
“There was more of an emphasis on the team and working for each other and trying to get that team ethic back that we need to have.
“We made it a bit nervy for ourselves in the last minute of two and we can do that a bit better.”
While Howe was left out altogether, Rowett also sprung something of a surprise by leaving Zander Diamond on the bench, with Ian Sharps returning to start after his three-game ban.
Sharps hardly put a foot wrong all game as he renewed an old partnership from his Shrewsbury days with Shane Cansdell-Sherriff.
“Sometimes a team isn’t necessarily all about the best individuals and that’s what I said to some of the players that were left out,” said the Brewers boss.
“I’m still trying to find the best balance and still don’t think we’re there yet. I’ve got to try things.
“We’ve conceded goals as a team and lost games.
“The three games we lost in a row, there were reasons behind it.
“There was only one of those games where we played badly.
“I dont think we’ve played against anyone yet that is a much better team than us.
“What we showed is more discipline and bit more team togetherness, which we liked.
“It’s another difficult game away from home where we’ve come away with the points.
“It’s really, really encouraging.
“We said this season we needed to be better away from home and now we need to be better at home in the next game, simple as that.”