Consistency has always been Nathan Thomas’ problem, according to Hartlepool United boss Craig Hignett.
But now the winger is putting in eye-catching performances week-in, week-out, Hignett understands it is going to get harder and harder for Pools to hang on to their star man.
Thomas’ goals almost carried Hignett’s men single-handedly through the month of September and into October.
But it is the 22-year-old’s improved defensive work is what will get him really noticed by top clubs higher up the English Football League pyramid, according to Hignett.
The manager said: “Nathan has been great for us – a real game-changer and getting better.
“He’s been exceptional the last five or six games in checking back and doing his job at both ends.
“I’ve said that is what will get him noticed.
“We all know what he can do going forward, it’s the other side of his game which will attract attention.
“Nathan wants to learn, we talk to him and let him know what will take him to the next level.
“He’s showed a desire to improve and develop, especially since he came back in the summer.
“And he’s getting better all the time. He has Premier League ability.
“He had to show it on a regular basis.
“The thing that sets exceptional players away from good players is the ability to put a shift in when it’s not going that well and he’s done that of late.”
Another player who has been a stand out in recent week has been Josh Laurent.
Hignett sees the youngster as another who has really grasped the bull by the horns since the summer at Pools.
“I’ve seen a change in him since the summer,” said Hignett, who serves the second of his three game touchline ban tomorrow.
“Josh came back in pre-season well. We all noticed it, players and staff and he is stronger and more powerful.
“He was knocked on the door for a while but we couldn’t get him in. We started well in midfield with some good player in front of him.
“But now he has come into his own.”