Sunderland boss David Moyes is convinced Jordan Pickford has a bright future after taking to life in the Premier League even quicker than Manchester United star David de Gea.
The 23-year-old keeper has performed so well for the struggling Black Cats this season that his elevation to the senior England squad was followed this week by a nomination for the Professional Footballers' Association Young Player of the Year award.
Pickford finds himself in exalted company alongside Tottenham pair Dele Alli and Harry Kane, Everton striker Romelu Lukaku, Manchester City schemer Leroy Sane and Burnley defender Michel Keane.
However, Moyes insists he would not be at all surprised if his goalkeeper landed the prize after being thrown in at the deep end and showing his quality almost from the off.
The Scot said: "For a young goalkeeper to do that in his first year in the Premier League takes some doing.
"Even David de Gea, who came from Spain, [Sir] Alex [Ferguson] had to keep persevering with David de Gea. He had a bad year, but he kept persevering, he kept playing him and actually all the managers since have benefited from that at the time.
"I've got to to say, Jordan has gone in and nearly not made any mistakes at all - and I am saying that touching wood.
"I have been banging on all year that I think he's the best emerging young talent for me. There have been other good young talents, like Dele Alli - we have got some terrific young players.
"But if you said who was new on the scene, I think Jordan would win it hands down. I think he would have every right to win the Young Player of the Year because he has been so good."
Pickford will need to continue his stunning form if Sunderland are to have any chance of dragging themselves out of desperate trouble, with the club 10 points adrift of safety ahead of West Ham's visit to the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
Moyes has never made any secret of his belief that it would be a difficult campaign, and his honesty has been questioned by predecessor Peter Reid in recent days.
But the former United boss said: "I just told it straight. That's all I've done, tell it straight. Peter Reid was in my room, actually, so he was with me that day. He's entitled to his opinion like everybody else.
"I'm definitely hurting and I'm certainly not enjoying the feeling of being down here. But part of football management is that you don't always get it good.
"I've had some really good times and at the moment, it's sore. I don't enjoy losing every Saturday and going home to the family."
Moyes will have central defender John O'Shea back following the death of his father Jim, but will lose midfielder Sebastian Larsson for three games after an unsuccessful appeal against the red card he received for a challenge on Ander Herrera last weekend.
Moyes said: "I was disappointed with the decision. I think it was the wrong decision. I didn't think at the time it was a sending-off.
"Certainly if you want, I can get my video out and I can show you worse tackles - even the same referee involved in some of them - which didn't get decisions, so you would think we feel aggrieved with Seb."