JOHN Hughes believes that Ritchie Humphreys has been the stand-out player of his first month at Hartlepool United.
The 35-year-old has started each of the new manager’s five games in charge at Victoria Park.
Humphreys (pictured above) has been deployed in a deep-lying midfield role during that time and has caught the eye.
“I’d agree Ritchie has been the best player from my first five games,” Hughes told SportMail.
“He was magnificent last week (against Stevenage) and was magnificent again in the second half on Saturday (at MK Dons).”
It has been Humphreys’ ability to retain possession in that central position which has impressed his boss and supporters alike.
He has also worn the armband in the absence of Peter Hartley in the last two matches and could retain that duty for Saturday’s visit of MK Dons.
“Ritchie put in a real man-of-the-match performance against Stevenage and the armband seemed to inspire him,” Hughes went on.
“I have to keep reminding myself that he’s 35 years old.
“But he’s been fantastic for me.
“He’s good on the ball and uses it well.”
And Hughes has revealed that it’s not just Humphreys’ performances on the pitch which deserve praise.
“We play seven v seven in training, two-touch stuff and sometimes the players wonder why – it’s because I want them to pass quickly to each other,” he said.
“Ritchie has been sensational at that, he’s a good footballer.
“He epitomises what we want from the club.”