Walsall Head Coach Matt Taylor praised Shay Willock after the teenager made his professional debut on Tuesday night.
Willock stepped off the bench against Cambridge United on Tuesday night and worked hard during a 20-minute cameo at the Abbey Stadium.
Taylor has been impressed with Willock and insists the forward deserved his chance for the positive attitude and desire he has shown.
“Shay has not been given the opportunity because it was the right thing to do; he’s earned that opportunity," Taylor said.
"Every time I’ve seen him play and every time I’ve seen him train in the group his attitude has been exceptional.
“He’s come into the professional game late, he’s a player who is eager to learn and desperate to learn.
“We’ve given him a round of applause in the changing rooms because the young man has made his professional debut for the football club and that’s a real positive.
"It’s just disappointing for him that he wasn’t on a winning team.”
It was a frustrating night for the Saddlers who bowed out of the Papa John’s Trophy despite a dominant display and creating a number of good opportunities and Taylor cut a frustrated figure after the match.
“We haven’t progressed because we’ve made two errors, they’ve had three shots and scored two goals,” he commented.
“Our goalkeeper hasn’t made a save and the attacking players haven’t done their job in putting the ball in the back of the net.
“We were exceptional with our energy, with our desire, with the chances we created but what you cannot do is come to a team in the league above and show them the respect they deserve by picking the strongest team that we could, based on injuries and suspensions, start a game like that and not be 2/3-0 up in the first ten minutes with the chances we had.
“It happened on Saturday, we changed the personnel and unfortunately, we just couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net.
“I don’t think their goalkeeper will have a better game than that all season but to be stood here now after witnessing probably one of the most complete performances in terms of domination and to not win a game of football, I’m flabbergasted and that’s the only way I can put it.
“The players must understand that it’s not good enough because for all the ability we have and for all of their hard work and endeavour tonight, we’ve lost a game of football and it’ll take me a while to process this one.”
Attention now turns to the FA Cup as Swindon Town visit the Banks’s Stadium with a place in the Third Round up for grabs.
Buy your tickets here.