The performance of Connor Ronan stood out as the only highlight in Tuesday's defeat at Wigan.
And boss Paul Lambert has hailed the teenager's three league starts to date as 'terrific'.
Ronan was a positive presence in midfield and almost scored a dramatic late equaliser with a 30-yard shot.
"He’s a big talent coming through," Lambert told the Express & Star. "He’s been terrific in the three games he’s played for us.
"His general game is really good and he’s only 18. Again, the club’s unearthed a talent who, touch wood, has a big part in the future of this club.
"He’s one of those kids that I’ve got to the stage where I think – and it’s the same when you watch the under-23s as well – you know exactly what you’re getting from him.
"When he doesn’t perform, that’s a shock. He’s created that himself. He’s comfortable in the first team environment and he thriving on it.
"The players know how good he is and he has the respect of the senior guys, which is important. They know he can play and he’s a terrific passer and has his set plays.
"It’s the same with Bright (Enobakhare), Harry (Burgoyne) and Morgan (Gibbs-White). Connor was excellent."
Lambert said that Ronan's slight appearance belied his physical strength.
"The physical presence is deceiving," he added. "He’s a really strong-bodied young player.
"Facially he looks a baby and the size and height of him...but if you see him up close he’s very powerful in the legs and his body is strong."
Moroccan midfielder Romain Saiss was again left out on Tuesday and many supporters have called for his inclusion.
But Lambert said the 26-year-old had to fight for his place.
"Everybody has been playing well and Romain has come back from the African Cup of Nations where he played a few games," Lambert said.
"It’s tough because the lads who have been here have been performing and deserve to be in the side.
"Romain’s a good player but he just has to bide his time the way other people have done.
"He’s very much part of it but I can only pick so many.
"There’s a lot of competition. And it’s difficult to drop him back into it. We’ve got a lot of games coming up – his time will come.
"But I’ve got to be fair to the lads that have got us this far as well, the lads who’ve performed."Subscribe to our Newsletter