Bradford City's Carl McHugh has been awarded the npower Football League Young Player of the Month Award for January.

A product of the Reading academy, McHugh joined Bradford City at the start of the current campaign and made his professional debut for the Bantams against Watford in August 2012. The 20-year-old defender has gone on to establish himself in the first team and has already made an impact with a number of stand-out performances.

January brought arguably one of the finest moments in Bradford City's history, defeating Aston Villa in the Capital One Cup Semi-Final to book their place at Wembley. In the two-legged tie, McHugh played beyond his years and put in two outstanding performances; scoring a goal and helping his team book their place in the Final.

On winning the award, McHugh said: "January was an incredible month for me, the cup run has been crazy with some of the teams we knocked out but now we are so close and want to go on and win the thing.

"My main thing with all big games is to make sure I enjoy them, that is what I told myself before the Arsenal game, but my goal against Villa is the stand-out moment for me."

Bradford City manager Phil Parkinson, added: "When we signed Carl we saw him as a youngster who would develop with the club as we progressed but he has continued to perform far above our expectations.

"He is an immense character, he's a leader, he's tough and he loves defending. Although he is still very young, especially for a centre-back, he plays like an old head on young shoulders. He is a pleasure to work with and is going to get better and better."

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, 179 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: "As a former Bradford City player, it's fantastic to see a young player like Carl coming through and playing some fantastic football.

"His performances in January have been outstanding and he has made real progress since joining the club. This award is testament to a successful month for him."

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.

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