Jack Ross praised Ethan Robson for showing his class in Sunderland's 3-1 win over Carlisle United.
Robson got on the scoresheet and produced a composed display before leaving the pitch just before half-time with an injury.
That is not thought to be a serious problem and Ross was pleased to see 21-year-old make his mark.
He revealed that Robson was set to start the season before injury curtailed his progress.
"I think it's fairly minor to be honest," Ross said.
"It was a combination of the impact from the tackle and he just twisted his ankle a bit. We don't think it's anything too serious.
"The fact that we don't have another game for a while helps, hopefully he should be OK by the time the group comes back together properly next Monday.
"He's a good player, I really like him, I'm fond of him. He was very much in my plans pre-season and would have started the season against Charlton if he'd been fit.
"It's just the way it pans out, he's found himself a bit behind some others and it has maybe dented his confidence a bit. We've worked hard with him, one-to-one, trying to build him up and the bits of his game he can tidy up. He wants to improve and he takes it on board, he wants to get better and play here.
"I said to him yesterday there was no pressure, just show you good you are, and he did that."
Ross, who watched the second half of the game from the stands, said he was pleased with his team's display.
The win means they are almost certain to progress through to the knockout stages of the competition.
"The second half in particular [we played well]," he said.
"The first half was a wee bit flat, that just goes with everything around it, it's a very different atmosphere to what we're used to.
"Second half we were good, I watched the game higher up and I enjoyed it, I enjoyed watching us.
"It was a good night for us, we wanted to win and we did that.
"It's another positive for the club that the goalscorers have progressed through the academy."