DERBY COUNTY manager Wayne Rooney was full of praise for Eiran Cashin after the Irish youngster made his full debut in the Rams' 1-0 Championship victory over Peterborough.
The centre-back had made four late substitute appearances for Derby since December before being handed his first start for the club on Saturday.
Cashin, who started after Richard Stearman was suspended and Lee Buchanan picked up a knock, played the full 90 minutes at Pride Park.
And while Louie Sibley claimed the headlines with a dramatic winning goal in the second minute of injury time, it was Cashin who was voted the man of the match by the fans.
Speaking after the match, Rooney said the 20-year-old has all the qualities to become a top player in the future.
"I thought he was magnificent," he told dcfc.co.uk.
"Tackling, heading, calmness on the ball, moving the ball forward and stepping in with the ball; it was everything I wanted and I'm delighted for him.
on full debut!
Brilliant from @eirancashin #DCFC pic.twitter.com/8fxoESbXQB
— Derby County (@dcfcofficial) February 19, 2022
"He's a top player, I believe. He can improve but he's got the potential to be a very good player and he's a great lad."
England-born Cashin, who has represented Ireland at U18 level, is one of four Irish youngsters hoping to help Derby pull off an unlikely escape act and spare the club from relegation.
The rest of the quartet is comprised of Festy Ebosele, 18, Louie Watson, 20, and established first team star Jason Knight, 21.
The struggling club started the season with a 12-point deduction after going into administration and were hit with a further nine-point penalty in November for breaches of profitability rules.
However, despite financial restraints and transfer limitations, they are now just five points from safety.
The club sit in 22nd place with 21 points from 32 games, with former England international Rooney overseeing a run of six wins in their last 11 Championship outings.