Craig Hignett believes Jake Carroll has the ability to go on and play at a higher level than Hartlepool United.
Hignett has become a massive fan of the in-form left-back – even though the first thing he did as the new Pools boss was to drop him!
Carroll was left out in favour of Dan Jones for Hignett’s managerial debut, against Yeovil Town.
But when Jones was ruled out of the trip to Luton Town, the Irishman returned to the side and has responded with top display after top display.
In fact, the 25-year-old has, arguably, been the star performer of the Hignett reign.
When Pools sank, almost without trace at Bristol Rovers, there was no blame attached to Carroll.
“Jake has been playing out of his skin,” said the Pools chief.
“Even at Bristol Rovers, he was outstanding.
“I think he’s put in really consistent displays - he’s played four games on the bounce.
“I’m really pleased for him, he’s a great kid.”
Carroll had been an ever-present under Ronnie Moore after the previous boss signed him last summer from Sky Bet Championship club, Huddersfield Town.
The defender himself had admitted last week that he had been up and down in form in the first half of the season.
Carroll seemingly turned a corner in the FA Cup thriller with Derby but has really come into his own over the last three weeks.
He has been excellent at the back and positive going forward, sending over a superb cross for Nathan Thomas last week when the forward curled in his first Pools goal to put the seal on a 3-1 victory.
“Jake’s ball for Nathan’s goal was incredible and he might not have done that four, five, or six weeks ago,” Hignett said.
“I’m getting people phoning me up about Jake Carroll now saying ‘who’s your left-back? I really like him’, that kind of thing.
“He’s one who can really kick on, he’s certainly got everything you need to play higher.”
Carroll was set to line up today for his 38th appearance of the season - a total which outstrips the combined number of games he’s played for Huddersfield, Bury (loan) and Partick Thistle (loan).
Capped five times for Republic of Ireland U18, the ex-St Patrick’s Athletic left-sided player, joined Huddersfield in 2013 but it’s the blue and white of Pools rather than the Terriers in which he has shone most.