Frank Lampard said midfielder Max Bird has been 'a delight to coach' after the young midfielder signed a new contract at Derby County this week.
Bird's new deal keeps him at Pride Park until the summer of 2022, with the 18-year-old having featured seven times for the first time this season in the league, FA Cup and Carabao Cup.
And Lampard says the new deal is just reward for a player who has also played a key part for the club in the FA Youth Cup and U23s Premier League Cup.
He said: “I’ve been hugely impressed with Max. He is a great young lad which is always the first impression. He is polite, has good manners and is very professional in his young ways.
“He has integrated very well into the first team squad this year for his age and it’s been a great progression.
“He has a real desire to improve and he’s a delight to coach. He always wants to listen and learn so it’s really enjoyable working with him.
“I knew there was a good batch of young players at the club and Max was one of the first names I heard in those terms.
“The first time he trained, he looked unfazed. It was clear to see that he had the talent and the skills to be a top player which we hope he can be.”
Bird has featured alongside other academy graduates such as Jayden Mitchell-Lawson and Jayden Bogle this season, with several others on the fringes of the first-team, and that's how Lampard wants it to be.
He said: “We are certainly trying to create a pathway. “We are proud of the Academy here and the competition to bring in young players has never been higher.
"It’s very competitive out there to take in the best young players but what we can offer is that path up the ladder into the first team.
“I’m certainly not scared of giving young players an opportunity if they show they are good enough. If you’re young enough, you’re good enough.
“We have shown that this year and hopefully we can continue that and it will help the further recruitment.”