Gillingham's Jake Hessenthaler is back in training Picture: Barry Goodwin
Peter Taylor believes Jake Hessenthaler can be the complete midfielder.
The 19-year-old was largely used in a defensive role last season but the Gills manager believes he has plenty to offer going forward as well.
Taylor said: “The nice thing about Jake is that people can’t say he is a holding midfielder that can pass because looking at him now, he can run forward, he can get us a goal – closer than the one he has scored – and he has a bit more about him.
“He could be an attacking midfield player as well as defensive.”
Jake Hessenthaler in midfield action for Gills against Shrewsbury last season Picture: Barry Goodwin
Taylor handed Hessenthaler his Gills debut at Rotherham in November and he quickly established himself as a first-team regular, finishing the season with 19 appearances.
Taylor said: “We could have a very good player. He was probably as comfortable on the ball as any other player we have got but also he is having a right go defensively as well.
“I kept saying to him, ‘be a bit like your dad (Andy Hessenthaler) without the ball and then we have got a very good player.”
Hessenthaler’s performances during the season earned him the young player-of-the-year award and his 40-yard lob against Coventry saw him claim goal of the season.
Jake Hessenthaler won young player-of-the-year and best goal trophies last season. Pictures: Andy Payton
He spoke on stage during the end of season award ceremony and Taylor was impressed.
He said: “He handled the situation well. I can’t imagine there were many times he has been on a stage talking like that and I thought he did great.
“On the strength of his parents, I am not surprised he is a serious footballer who is going to do everything he can and I think he is pleased with the way he is developing. There is a lot more in the tank as well.”