Championship: Nigel Clough says Derby midfielder Will Hughes can feel proud
Nigel Clough says Derby midfielder Will Hughes can look back with pride at his first full season as a professional.
Last Updated: 24/04/13 1:38pm
Hughes, who last week signed a contract extension to keep him at Pride Park until the summer of 2016, initially joined the Rams on schoolboy forms in 2006 at the age of 11 before signing his first professional deal in March 2012.
The academy product has already become a key player for Derby. He made 35 starts for Clough's side this season before suffering a groin injury in mid-February.
Prior to that, Hughes became the second-youngest England Under-21 international behind Theo Walcott when he made his debut for Stuart Pearce's Young Lions as a substitute against Northern Ireland in November.
"He's had a great season and we really do believe he'll be even better next year," Rams boss Clough told the club's official website.
"Will has shown he has plenty of potential this season and if continues to keep his feet on the ground and concentrate on his football, he can be anything he wants to be.
"A year ago he hadn't even started a game, but he's gone on to make over 30 starts this year, score a few goals and get capped by England at Under-21 level.
"So when you look at it that way, he's had an amazing year."
Hughes, who turned 18 a week ago, made his return from injury as a late substitute during Saturday's 3-1 home win over Peterborough.