Brentford full-back Jake Bidwell has been awarded The Football League's Young Player of the Month Award for January.

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

The 20-year-old, who joined the Bees on a permanent deal from Everton in the summer, put in a string of impressive performances during the month to help extend the club's unbeaten run. In addition to some solid defensive displays, Bidwell made his presence felt at the other end of the pitch too, with his three assists in the month the joint-highest total in the division.

Bidwell, who had progressed through the youth ranks at Goodison Park, made the permanent switch to Brentford after previous loan spells at Griffin Park. He recently passed the landmark of 100 appearances for the West London club.

The four wins and a draw Brentford picked up in January are part of what is now a 19-match unbeaten run in Sky Bet League 1 that has seen them collect 51 points out of 57 and move to the top of the division. The Bees are now two points clear of Leyton Orient and Wolverhampton Wanderers, and they face the latter in a top-of-the-table clash at Griffin Park on Saturday.

On receiving the award Bidwell said: "I'm delighted as there are some great players who have won it over the last few months. The more pleasing thing is the way the team are playing. We are top of the league and if your team is not doing so well you probably don't get these awards. I'm just happy to be playing in a good side which is playing well at the minute.

"My first job is that I am a defender. In modern day football you need to do everything and to be chipping in helping with goals is something I work hard on. It all just seemed to come together in January.

"I was very grateful for the opportunity I got at a young age at Brentford. We came very close last year and I thought I owed it to them to come back this year, have another crack at it and get the job done. I will forever be grateful for everything that the club has done for me and the faith they have shown in me."

Jake Bidwell and Mark Warburton

Brentford manager Mark Warburton added: "Jake applies himself so well. He always does extra work after training, developing key aspects of his game. He felt at the start of the season his crossing wasn't where it needs to be and people have seen the impact this season with the number of assists he has had.

"His level of consistency has been outstanding. He wants to be the best he can possibly be. He is 20 and has got a lot more development still to come but he wants to learn every day and has the desire and hunger to do that."

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, 149 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: "Jake's not just had a great month, but a great season - the consistency in his performances belies his age. To have played more than 100 games for Brentford and still be just 20 years of age is a real achievement."

Each month the accolade is 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 Jake Bidwell

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