Hartlepool United boss Craig Hignett believes throwing James Martin at the deep end has been the right call.
The teenager found the going tough for the first half hour of Saturday’s League Two loss at Wycombe Wanderers.
But having given the ball away in and around his own area, and been culpable for the Chairboys’ opener, 18-year-old Martin did not wilt, like many a youngster before him.
Instead as the game wore on Martin, starting just his second League Two game, took his early wobbles on the chin and put in a performance which many a much more experienced pro would have been proud of.
Hignett thinks this is all part of what is proving a steep learning curve for the summer signing, who had previously been on a scholarship at Queen of the South.
“That is what you call learning,” said the manager.
“He learned throughout the game – you could see that.
“He had a tough start in the game, then grew into it. You can see he has got character.
“He is a tough young player. No matter what happens he proved he will happily keep getting on the ball and doing his job, even if things aren’t going well.
“He had a tough time but came through the back end of it.
“That will stand him in good stead.”
Meanwhile the manager does have some regrets that he did not change his team around at the weekend, coming just four days after the team’s hard-fought Northern Gas & Power Stadium victory over Accrington Stanley.
Hignett thinks some of his players were showing fatigue from the midweek win, and admits he had considered resting some of his squad.
“Some looked like it had taken its toll on them,” he said.
“I toyed with changing it but to be fair to the lads in the week, they deserved to keep their places and have another go at Wycombe.
“We had some knocks and we had some illnesses so I couldn’t really change things around too much, but that is absolutely no excuse for the performance.
“The lads who went out there didn’t look sharp. They looked laboured.”