16-year-old Mateus Mane made the First Team matchday squad against Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday.
The Under-16 Academy player has been a regular for the Youth Team this season, as well as impressing Jimmy McNulty in a recent First Team training session.
“Mane deserves a mention, a 16-year-old making the bench,” commented Dale’s Head Coach.
“He’s been fantastic for the Youth Team. He trained with the First Team on an occasion last week and he showed real talent, for such a young boy.
“As we’ve shown all season, we want to realign this club with what has been an amazing element of this club, the Academy. What’s at stake for that moving forward I truthfully don’t know, because we’re in different financial territory than we ever have been before. I'm the Head Coach, I don't run the Club operationally, so I don't know.
“But I believe in falling in line with the brave coaches that have been here before in showcasing those players, putting them in the front line.
“It’s an amazing achievement for him, being such a young boy. I did see a potential scenario whereby we could get him on the pitch for a few minutes had the game gone our way, but it didn’t.”
Mane, born in September 2007, is the most recent Youth Team player to be part of a First Team squad.
He follows the likes of Isaac Burgess, Corey Edwards and Luke Mann, who have all made their professional bows this season.
17-year-old George Nevett, who had begun the second year of his scholarship before signing a professional contract in the summer, has made 23 appearances for the First Team so far this season. He has been missing since the turn of the year but McNulty is hopeful of him returning soon.
The Youth Team are next in action at Walsall this coming weekend in the EFL Youth Alliance League.