A mindset to improve is what has impressed Jon Dahl Tomasson about Rovers’ teenage star Ash Phillips.
Phillips enjoyed a winning start on his full, and league, debuts against Hartlepool United and West Bromwich Albion last week, less than two months after turning 17.
The central defender has shaken off a bout of cramp that forced him off against the Baggies and is primed for a third appearance in the space of seven days against Reading tonight.
England youth international Phillips only made his Under-18s debut last January, but the speed of his progress has seen him regularly train with the first-team before appearing in the pre-season friendlies.
“When you’re young it’s of course about catching the manager’s eye, he’s done that,” Tomasson said of Phillips.
“He had a good pre-season.
“To get his debut against Hartlepool at just 17 years old, that’s quite impressive, and I think he deserved that.
“When you play youngsters it’s about when is the right moment, but also about quality first of all, are they good enough? I think he did a good job the other day.
“He wants to become better, he knows exactly what he wants, he’s good at learning, and to develop players you need to be good at learning.
“He takes feedback well.
“When you’re that age it’s about talent, but he also needs to learn a lot to become even better.
“He is good at that every day on the pitch and with meetings, having a good talk about football, looking at clips, and that’s all about getting better.”
While Phillips is at the start of his career, he played alongside Daniel Ayala, Rovers’ most experienced player.
Ayala has enjoyed a fine career, but also start to the season, and helped guide his teenage defensive partner through the Baggies win.
And Tomasson believes it’s a real team effort to help Phillips settle into life in the first-team.
He added: “You need to think about everyone who is helping him, Ayala and the rest of his team-mates, so it’s not only Ash but others who have come into the first-team and a great team spirit you see how they are in the dressing room, getting everyone settled immediately.
“That’s the players and the staff helping with those things, and not just my staff, but everyone in the club.”
Ayala, captain Lewis Travis and goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski are among those who have taken on increased responsibility after a summer of change at the club which saw the likes of Darragh Lenihan leave.
On the influence of Ayala, the head coach added: “For sure, he’s a leader in that way.
“He wants to help, you have different characters but his character is one that wants to help the team,
“Trav as a captain wants to help which is very positive.”
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