Alan Smith earned the praise of his manager Karl Robinson following his full debut for MK Dons.
Smith, who has joined the Milton Keynes club on loan from Newcastle for the remainder of the season, made his first start for Robinson's side in the 1-1 draw at League One promotion rivals Huddersfield. It was also the 31-year-old's first start since suffering a broken ankle while playing for Newcastle at Sunderland 12 months ago.
"Alan showed how good he is winning tackles and headers," said Robinson. "He knocked on my door on Monday and said he wanted to play even though he probably needs four weeks of training to get him fully fit."
He added: "Alan reverted to a holding midfield role at Newcastle but I want him to be the one player given the freedom to unlock defences.
"We have a steely, gritty and hard-working player and I am made up with him."
Smith was substituted after 66 minutes, immediately after being booked for a lunge at Huddersfield goalscorer Jamie McCombe.
Robinson insisted he intended to replace him anyway and added: "That was his limit.
"I had a few words with him when he came off and he said he loved it. If I quoted exactly what he said the FA might have something to say about it!"
Huddersfield fell out of the automatic promotion places but boss Lee Clark seemed content with a point and said: "You always want to win your home matches but we gave it our best shot. We had periods in the second half where we were a bit ragged.
"(Goalkeeper) Ian Bennett didn't have many saves to make but MK Dons are a good footballing side who play the right way."