AT 19 years old, being likened to a “veteran” might not seem like a compliment to Jack Baldwin – but John Hughes insists it is a worthy accolade.
The Pools boss, like all inside Victoria Park, was blown away by the teenager’s performance during Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Crewe Alexandra.
Baldwin was recalled to the side and installed in a midfield role some seven games ago by Hughes, since when Pools have remained unbeaten.
During that period he has also broken his scoring duck and chipped in with a couple of assists.
And Hughes believes Baldwin is a player destined for the highest level, pointing to the maturity of the second-year pro.
“Jack Baldwin is playing like a veteran,” the Pools chief told SportMail today.
“He was an absolutely different class on Tuesday.
“The way he was getting about people, tackling, recovering, winning his headers – he was immense.
“He takes everything in his stride and nothing fazes him.
“He’s got a massive future in the game.”
It was Baldwin who laid on the opening goal for Charlie Wyke, out-leaping his marker at the far post to steer into his team-mate’s path who duly headed home.
And Hughes admits the southerner has that penalty-box threat in his repertoire.
“It was him who got up to create the first goal, he showed great desire to climb and win it,” he went on.
“He’s scoring goals as well and he can bring that to his game.”
Baldwin arrived at Victoria Park as a rookie centre-back straight out of sixth-form college.
His conversion to all-action midfield man has delighted Hughes, who says the new role will aid his development.
“I don’t think playing in midfield, that hurly-burly environment, will do him any harm,” he said.
“His best game was against Stevenage at centre-back where he just dictated the game.
“But he’s that good he can adapt to any position and it’s all a new thing to learn.”