Derby County's Will Hughes has been awarded the npower Football League Young Player of the Month Award for November.
Since joining the Derby County youth academy in 2006, Hughes has made a rapid rise to become an important member of the senior team this season. Still only 17, the talented midfielder made three senior appearances for the Rams in 2011/12 and has already featured 22 times in the current campaign, putting in a number of stand-out performances.
November was undoubtedly one of Hughes' finest months in a Derby County shirt, starting all of the Rams' six league outings and bagging himself a goal against Millwall. It was also a successful month for the creative midfielder at international level, earning his England Under-21 debut as a second-half substitute against Northern Ireland, making him the second youngest player to represent England at that level.
On winning the award, Hughes said: "I'm extremely proud to receive this award and a little bit shocked to be honest, especially when you look at the names that have claimed it in the past.
"The last year or so has been something of a whirlwind for me and so much has happened in such a short space of time, and to get this award is another memorable moment.
"I'd like to thank the manager and his coaching staff for showing faith in me and also my team-mates as well, because there's a real team ethos around the place and that has been so important for me making the step up to the first-team squad."
Derby County manager Nigel Clough added: "We're all delighted for Will that he has claimed The Football League Young Player of the Month Award for November; it's0 fantastic news for everyone connected with the club.
"He has been a near ever-present for us this season and we're delighted with the progress he had made in the last few months. To do what he has done at 17 and a half just goes to show the potential that he has got. He's a level-headed lad and he's kept everything in perspective, which is something we really like about him."
Hughes was presented with his trophy by fellow Derby County player Shaun Barker, who is currently out injured.
Each season, Football League clubs invest more than £40m on identifying, training and educating the next generation of football talent. Around a third of this money (£12.6m) is provided by the Football Association and Premier League.
There are 8,700 young players registered with League clubs making Football League Youth Development the largest centrally co-ordinated young player programme in world football. In the 2012/13 season to date, 137 players aged 21 or under have made their professional debuts for Football League clubs.
David Wetherall, Head of Youth Development at The Football League, said: "Taking into account his age, Will is one of the most exceptionally gifted players in the Championship.
"After making his senior debut, Will has really progressed as a player and it is no surprise that he has cemented his place in the Derby County first XI and earned his England Under-21 call-up. He is certainly one to watch for the future, I know I'll be keeping a good eye on his progression."
Each month the accolade will be awarded by The Football League to the young player who has made the most significant contribution and impact in first team football. To be eligible the player must be either under 21 years of age or be playing in the season during which he turns 21.
During the 2011/12 season, 225 players aged 21 or under made their professional debuts in The Football League.
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