Aiden McGeady’s ability has never been in doubt but Jack Ross says the former Celtic man deserves immense credit for his professionalism and attitude this season.
The 32-year-old endured a frustrating pre-season as he battled injury and so has been in and out of the side in recent weeks.
He scored his first goal of the season against Southend United and was a constant threat after coming off the bench.
Ross sees the Irishman as an asset on and off the pitch.
“What this recent run has shown is the importance of the squad because of the different XIs that have played and in a lot of the recent games the players who have come off the bench have made big contributions towards us winning the game and Saturday was an example of that,” Ross said.
“Aiden is an unbelievably talented footballer. I’ve seen it first-hand because I’ve played against him directly, so I know how good he is. I see it every day in training.
“What he deserves an enormous amount of credit for at the moment is his professionalism and his attitude because he was disappointed not to start against Doncaster but he came on and helped us win the game in the last period.
“On Saturday I thought he was really, really good when he came on. We hoped he would do that when the game opened up. It suits him, because one-v-one he’s as good as anyone in the country, never mind the league.
“I’m pleased he got his reward with the goal because that’s been the most frustrating thing for him,” Ross added.
“I’m delighted with the contribution he’s making for me and like a lot of players he’ll want to make sure he’s in the starting team.
“Aiden’s an intelligent man and I think sometimes we forget the level he’s played at. He’s played in the latter stages of the Champions League and he’s dealt with a lot of pressure and expectation from an early age.
“He cares deeply about his football and he’s been very good for me since I came to the club, even when he was injured.
“But there’s always that balance. As a senior player you help the younger players but you also want to play, he’s still got that drive to play every week.”
McGeady is a player with high standards but Ross says he has not been at all difficult to manage.
“That’s not how I’ve found him,” he said.
“He cares about his football, cares about his performance level every day in training. Will he have a moan and a grump at times? Yeah, but so do all the players in my group – George, Catts, Glenn, Lynden, loads of others – but I was as bad as anybody when I was a player. “He cares a lot about his football and he’s got standards but how he’s interacted with me and my staff since I’ve been at the club has been brilliant.
“He made an outstanding contribution on Saturday.”
So as a former full-back who played against the supremely skillful winger, does Ross have any sympathy for the full-backs of League One?
“Possibly because I’ve been there myself but not really because as his manager I want him to go past his man every time,” Ross said.
“His feet are remarkably quick and when he faces people up one-v-one the trust that he’ll go past him is incredible and his quality once he gets into those areas, I’m fortunate to have him in my squad and delighted with the contribution he’s made.”