Chris Wilder revealed David Brooks is on the verge of making his first Championship start for Sheffield United after describing the youngster as the "biggest positive" of their Carabao Cup tie against Leicester City.
On a night where Wilder attributed United's 4-1 defeat to "naivety", he admitted the youngster had thrust himself into contention for a prominent role when Derby County visit Bramall Lane this weekend.
Brooks, aged 20, caused City's defence all manner of problems during the second round match, prompting Wilder to admit there was no point in downplaying his ability amid reports of Premier League interest.
"I'm not going to mug people off and pretend he isn't a talent because he quite clearly is," the United manager said.
"I thought he was the biggest story for us out there, he twisted their full-back all over the place and deserved a goal for his efforts.
"We've known all about David for a long time now. We spotted him in the academy and had him working with us all through last year. He was unfortunate not to play more then but there was never any doubt about what he had in his locker. None whatsoever."
Asked whether Brooks had done enough to force himself into the team which hosts Gary Rowett's side on Saturday, Wilder responded: "We've got to manage him properly and he's put in a lot of work out there. But, yes, he is clearly in our thoughts."
United, who Wilder admitted could make "one or two new signings" before the game against County, posed City plenty of questions until Islam Slimani scored a quick-fire brace following Demarai Gray's opener. Caolan Lavery reduced the deficit during the closing stages before Ahmed Musa added City's fourth.
"I'm not going to pat my players on the back for losing a game," Wilder said. "Because we don't like doing that. I thought we were well in it until some naivety cost us. We've got to learn from that."