Paul Cook insists Dujon Sterling will be featuring at first-team level for Wigan Athletic before too long.
The 19-year-old right-back has only featured once – in the Carabao Cup loss to Stoke – since joining Latics over the summer on a season-long loan from Chelsea.
He’s spent most of his time so far working on fitness, and got more valuable match minutes under his belt for the Development Squad on Monday.
And the Latics says he remains a big part of his plans for the campaign.
“Dujon’s still getting there in terms of fitness,” Cook told the Wigan Post.
“But he is catching up those minutes in the Development Squad.
“And people will see Dujon in a Wigan shirt soon, that’s for sure.
“These lads don’t just come here to make up the numbers, they’re very good players.
“Unfortunately, for some, it is a stop-start challenge – and we want to get them to the point of starting rather than stopping.
“But you have to be fit enough when you are asked to start.”
Sterling was part of a very strong Under-23 side that beat Charlton 2-1 at Euxton.
Also in the starting XI were Kal Naismith, Cedric Kipre, Lee Evans, Lewis Macleod and Jamie Jones, who’ve all sampled first-team football this term.
Evans laid on both goals for Naismith with pinpoint deliveries from set-pieces.
And the watching Latics boss was pleased with the Wales international’s all-round contribution.
“One of the problems for lads who are out of the team is they lose valuable minutes playing,” he acknowledged.
“And then they’re actually asked to go back into the team, they look a bit rusty.
“The solution to that is play football!
“But the reality is, in the modern game, some players think playing in the Development Squad is not cool – that’s the truth of it.
“The pleasing thing for me as a manager is that none of our lads are like that.
“Every single one of them treats the games with the respect they deserve, and get what they can out of them.
“Lee Evans ran over 12km on Monday – that is a frightening stat, absolutely frightening.
“That is elite-level stuff, in a Development Squad game.
“The easy thing for Lee to have said was: ‘I’m not bothered’.
“But he’s made sure the next time he’s asked to play – and it could be this weekend – he’s ready to play."