Delighted Hartlepool United boss Craig Hignett says Josh Laurent has the potential to play at the highest level after the midfielder signed a new deal.
Signed from Brentford at the end of the January transfer window, Laurent initially had to be patient for his chance in the first team but has emerged as a key player this season.
The League Two side has now moved to tie him down to a new longer deal, amid interest from other clubs higher up the Football League pyramid.
Hignett said: "It’s a big shot in the arm for us to get him signed-up on a new contract.
"Last year we could all see the potential he had, even though he was a bit in and out of the side but, fair play to him, he’s gone away in the summer and worked really hard to come back in great shape.
"He looked a different player from day one and he was someone we all noticed; he’s improved, he’s matured, he’s got stronger and that’s all down to him listening and working hard.
"Josh is one of those players who is really keen to learn and you can see that he’s adding bits and bobs to his game all the time.
"He certainly has the potential to play at the highest level and his improvement over such a short space of time makes it really exciting how far he could go," Hignett told the club's website.
Prior to Wednesday night, the 21-year-old had started the last eleven games in all competitions and scored his first goal during the recent home encounter with Leyton Orient.