Derby County's on-loan striker Patrick Bamford has been awarded The Football League's Young Player of the Month Award for December following his performances for previous club Milton Keynes Dons.

The award covers players that play in all three divisions of the Sky Bet Football League.

The 20-year-old, who left MK Dons at the start of 2014, scored three goals in the month, one in each of their wins over Wolverhampton Wanderers, Port Vale and Crawley Town. Those strikes were just three of the 17 goals the young Chelsea forward scored during his loan spell at the club in the first half of the season - form which helped him secure a further loan move to Derby County for the remainder of the 2013/14 campaign.

Bamford, who has since scored for the Rams, started as a trainee at Nottingham Forest before signing for Chelsea at the beginning of 2012. His loan spell at Milton Keynes Dons was his second at the club having spent five months there last term.

Bamford was thrilled to receive the award and said: "Even though it is a team game and you are always striving to do your best for the team, to get personal awards is really nice. It was a great experience at MK Dons and a great learning curve. I really enjoyed it there and I managed to score a few goals. I was a bit reluctant to leave but I knew for my own career and development I had to push on."

Derby County Head Coach Steve McClaren added: "17 goals in 30 games speaks for itself so if he can replicate that at Derby it will be fantastic. If he just brings his goals we will be highly delighted. But he brings quality, and he has a great attitude too."

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 2013/14 season to date, 125 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: "Patrick has clearly made the most of the opportunity to go out on loan and play first-team football. His performances for Milton Keynes Dons in the first half of the season were outstanding and he looks to have taken the step up to playing in the Sky Bet Championship in his stride. Playing in a promotion-chasing side at Derby County will be great experience for him so I'm looking forward to watching him continue his development over the remainder of the season."

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. Currently a third of all players registered with Football League clubs are eligible to be considered for this award.

Click here to read BBC Sport's interview with Patrick Bamford

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