Hughes surely can only get better!

The sky appears to be the limit for Derby County midfielder Will Hughes. The 18-year-old continues to impress both Rams fans and people further afield.

His ability is clear to everyone. He is very forward-thinking with his passes, looking up to move forward – the awareness he has of those around him is top drawer. Not only does the Under-21 international have an excellent pass but also a very sweet strike with his left boot.

Positioning-wise, Hughes operates best as a deep-lying midfielder or a central-midfielder with more freedom to roam – all depending on who he plays alongside.

After bursting onto the scene as a 16-year-old to make his debut in 2011, the Rams’ young player of the year made nearly 40 appearances last season. It’s clear that he himself recognises that he needs to be playing proper football and not warming the bench and turning out for the development side of a Premier League club.

Will continues to mature game after game. You wouldn’t know his age. Occasionally when a youngster makes the step-up they can be a bit cagey on the ball and be caught up in the occasion due to the more severe pressure. Not this lad.

It’s widely-known that the Championship is a tough league, both footballing-wise and physically. A slight youngster can easily get pushed around by the big boys. Hughes grows in his strength and physical side all the time, he must incorporate that to his game in order to compete. Continually he becomes a marked-man with the oppositions.

Last night the Derby midfielder won his third England Under-21 cap in their emphatic 6-0 victory over Scotland’s Under-21s. Hughes played 72 minutes and was described as a stand-out performer“Among those to have stood out, Will Hughes has done nothing wrong at all. Passes the ball well, has cultured left foot and plays football as it should be done. He is held in high regard at Derby County and it is easy to see why. He and Nat Chalobah – before he was injured – have been England’s stand-out performers.”

It’s worth noting that he was selected and played for Roy Hodgson, in charge of the youngsters for the night. Surely this will only add to his value.

Hodgson is clearly a man that isn’t afraid to select youth in his senior squad. Jack Butland, Raheem Sterling and WIlfried Zaha have all been given chances at senior level by the ex-West Brom manager. Hughes might be next. It’s more of a matter of when rather than if he gets the call-up to the senior side.

Speculation has only mounted in recent days with Liverpool linked with a move for the watched-man. Should he move on, it appears that Derby would demand a loan-back because he is imperative for the plans this season. It’s believed that he is sighted as the ‘long-term successor’ of Steven Gerrard.

Let’s hope he stays a Ram for now, a loan-back would clearly be on Derby’s agenda. His value is building, which is only a good thing – making him a bigger asset.

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