Nathan Thomas is Premier League quality, according to Hartlepool United boss Craig Hignett.
The Pools gaffer is certain that his in-form winger has got the ability to mix it with the big boys in English football.
I’m a realist. A player wants to play as high as he can.
While talent is not in question with Thomas, says Hignett, it has, and always will be, a case of application.
And should he have the right attitude, Hignett believes the sky is the limit for the 21-year-old.
He said: “He’s got the natural ability to play in the Premier League.
“The longer he carries on with these good habits the higher he will go – and he will go higher,
“Nath has been fantastic, in scoring form. Five in five for him, a real handful and the thing is he wants to learn now and we are giving him advice and information all the time.
“He’s getting into a shape, he’s tracking back, he’s tracking runners, doing everything a real top wide player should be.”
Hignett continued: “Sometimes it is just an attitude thing. Nath can get upset if he is not involved in the play sometimes.
“If the play is all on the right all the time he can sometimes just sit outside. He can sulk sometimes.
“But we say to him ‘just because you’re not involved you can get on the end of this’.”
Pools boss Hignett admits the thought of losing Thomas in the near future has crossed his mind.
But rather than concern him, the gaffer says he accepts transfers are part and parcel of football.
“We could lose him in January,” said Hignett.
“If we do to the Premier League I would be delighted for him.
“I’m a realist. A player wants to play as high as he can.
“As long as the deal is good for him and the club I would be delighted to see him in the Premier League.
“He’s knuckled down, worked his socks off and is a different lad to when we first came in.
“He’s matured and he understands what he needs to progress and get better. He will listen and learn and that’s all you can ask as a coach.”
It might be five in five for Thomas, who is the only player to have scored a goal for Pools since August, but Hignett says the wideman should not be finished there.
The manager has set former Mansfield and Plymouth man Thomas a double figures goal tally target by the end of the League Two season.
“I think when you have got the ability Nathan has got you should be getting double figures,” he said.
“He is doing that a lot more - getting in the box.
“I think this formation, playing in the three, suits him.
“He has been a lot more clinical in himself.
“He is on a roll and and he is expecting to score in every game. That is the feeling you get as a footballer sometimes.
“And he had lacked that.”