TEENAGE sensation Will Hughes has been lauded as an inspiration to young footballers at Derby County’s “land of opportunity”.
Hughes has made over 40 appearances for the Rams since his debut in November 2011, and his performances have seen him linked with a transfer to a host of Premier League clubs.
And former Burton Albion and Derby star Darren Wassall, now the manager of the club’s youth academy, was full of praise for the 18-year-old.
“Will is a great example and a great inspiration to all of the scholars with what he has shown can be achieved,” he said.
“He came in two Julys ago and nobody really knew what was going to happen with him in terms of how quickly he would progress, but he hit the ground running in July from the very first training session and he just got better and better as the weeks and months went on.
“He deservedly got his call up in the last couple of games of the season, and the rest is history as far as this season is concerned.”
Wassall also had a lot of praise for the set up and the environment around the club.
“This place here at Derby County is the land of opportunity for young players. If they are good enough then they will get their chance and not many clubs can say that.
“We are seen as a place where young players are given an opportunity and they can flourish here with the environment we have created.
“Now we can compete with the big boys in terms of recruitment, not based on money or based on how big the club is, but if you come here you know you are going to get a chance.”
Rams boss Nigel Clough is very keen to keep up the academy work, and maintains that is one of the club’s primary targets.
Wassall said: “The manager said that the mandate is to produce homegrown players.
“Next year we will have another 10 first year scholars, most who have been at the club three or four years already.”