Keith Hill said Dan Adshead is a joy to work with after handing the 17-year-old his first EFL start in Dale’s 1-0 win over Accrington Stanley.
The Dale Academy product has made three league appearances as a substitute, but was named in a league starting eleven for the first time on Saturday.
And the Dale boss was delighted with his performance.
“He’s an unbelievable player,” said Hill.
“An absolute joy to work with. I thought he was brilliant today.
“His awareness, the movement in his head in relation to where the opponents are and where his teammates are. It’s not very often he misplaces a pass or gets caught in possession.
“It was a difficult game for me to choose him in, because when you come back from an international tournament, you can run into fatigue because of the difference in climate, the training tempo, the games that they play.
“But I so wanted to play him, because prior to him going away I thought he was ready when we played up at Fleetwood and he got an injury. He’s fully justified going away with England and he’s fully justified playing today.
“I was really pleased that I was able to give him his first league start and he fully deserves it, because after getting injured when he was really on top form, I think he was a little bit low.
“But the bounce since, making him captain in the Checkatrade Trophy, being called up for England, scoring for England, making his EFL debut – you don’t always get what you deserve as a person in life, but if you carry on working hard you’ll certainly get your just rewards, and Dan’s getting them now.”
The youngster returned from international duty with England Under-18s during the week, where he scored on his international debut and appeared in all three of England Under-18s matches.
“I don’t often collect footballing memorabilia, I collect it in my brain, but I’ve got John Stones’ England shirt and I’ve got Dan Adshead’s.
“Those two shirts, they definitely go up on my wall, there’s no question about that. They’re special because we’ve got a footballing kindred spirit. We’re on the same wavelength and it’s like falling in love!
“You know straight away with Dan Adshead. It’s not just his footballing ability, it’s everything else. It’s quite simple, you’ve just got to help it along. I’m not responsible for Dan Adshead’s success, Dan and his family is. I’m helping him – I’m that little pebble of the wave that is Dan Adshead.
“You’ve got to look after special talent and one of your own. We’re a team – we lifeboat each other and support one another when somebody gets hurt or makes a mistake.
“We don’t hang them out to dry, we actually support them. He’s an excellent player and so is Ian Henderson, he’s a great leader, and he’s come up with another goal today.
“For people like Dan Adshead; Jim McNulty, Aaron Wilbrham, the elder statesmen, they want to look after special talent and they’ve been there, seen it before and they will protect against the opposition and protect against negativity with respect to bad habits. Dan’s got very good mentors who he can depend on.”