Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has hailed the form of Nathan Baker despite his defence shipping 10 goals in their last three games.
Baker has kept fellow graduate Ciaran Clark out of the side in recent months, partnering captain Ron Vlaar at the heart of the Villans' backline.
Disappointing home defeats to Stoke and lowly Fulham came either side of a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Manchester United, the results all following Villa's impressive 1-0 victory over Chelsea.
However, quiet man Baker has been singled out by Lambert for special praise, insisting he deserves his place alongside Vlaar.
"He's been excellent, Nathan, if the truth be known," Lambert told the Birmingham Mail.
"He's that committed to the challenge. I think he's played really well, I really do. He's been excellent for us, him and Ron at the centre of that defence.
"I expect Nathan to win his physical battles and his headers because of the size of the guy. I think you know what you're going to get from Nathan. Having Ron beside him certainly calms him down."
Communication off the pitch is not the 22-year-old's strong point, according to his boss, but on the field Lambert admits it's a different story.
"Once he discovers the art of speaking, he'll be all right!"Lambert added.
"I've never heard him speak, Nathan, but on the pitch, fantastic. He's still a baby but this whole experience will stand these lads in great stead. Once they hit their mid-20s, and have grown up, they'll be really good players."