Derby manager Wayne Rooney has singled out Louie Watson for praise on RamsTV and hinted the midfielder will start in the game at Barnsley in midweek.

Watson made his debut for Derby in the 4-0 win at Birmingham City.

The 19-year-old has since made another three first-team appearances off the bench, coming on in the last two encounters with 20 minutes remaining.

Bristol City v Derby County - Sky Bet Championship
(Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)

Derby immediately looked brighter at Cardiff with Watson on the pitch, and he had a similar impact against Coventry as the Rams fell to a 1-0 defeat.

Speaking to RamsTV after the game, Derby boss Wayne Rooney felt Watson was his side’s best player against Coventry and hinted he is in line for a start at Barnsley.

“For the second game in a row, I thought Louie Watson came on and was our best player. Once again, he’s brave, taking the ball and doing what we’re asking. He’s switching the play. In the first half, we didn’t switch the play at all, and he’s brave enough to look for the forward pass. I think he has shown he can do it at this level. Not just in terms of getting on the ball, he’s one of the only players I can hear talking on the pitch. He’s vocal, so of course he’s a very good option for me to start on Wednesday (against Barnsley),” Rooney explained.

Derby have brought through a number of young players in recent years.

Max Lowe and Jayden Bogle were both sold to Sheffield United last summer, while Kaide Gordon recently joined Liverpool and Morgan Whittaker moved to Swansea City.

Max Bird, Lee Buchanan and Jason Knight are current established first-team players. Louie Sibley, meanwhile, has been in and out of the team since Rooney took charge.

Birmingham City v Derby County - Sky Bet Championship
(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Watson is another who has come through Derby’s thriving academy.

The youngster is predominantly a linking central midfielder. He took 21 touches at Coventry in 20 minutes, only 13 less than Graeme Shinnie managed in 70 minutes.

Derby need to freshen things up after a second successive away defeat and Watson could be the player to help create that spark when they face Barnsley on Wednesday.

Also see: ‘Wasted out there’: Some Derby fans criticise Wayne Rooney decision in Coventry defeat

Also see: Report: ‘Special’ Derby talent wanted by Leeds and Moyes tipped to move clubs this summer

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