Everton manager David Moyes has been impressed by Seamus Coleman's adaptability this season.
The 22-year-old has come on leaps and bounds in the last few months, having been asked to play in midfield rather than his usual right-back position.
Moyes has hailed the way Coleman has coped, particularly considering he only arrived at Goodison Park just over two years ago from Irish side Sligo Rovers for a bargain £60,000.
"The level of where he has come from means he must be close to young player of the year," said Moyes.
"He's had no real footballing experience at this level, or any level at all, very little full-time training and very little technical work so we hope there is going to be more improvement.
"He's a right-back playing one on and he might be better one on; we don't know yet.
"One of his biggest strengths is his lack of inhibitions carrying the ball. You won't get him to be the best passer and keeper of the ball, but he's given us something else and coming from deep will help him improve as a defender in years to come."
Coleman, who found the back of the net in the Toffees' victory over Fulham at the weekend, is likely to play for the Republic of Ireland in Saturday's Euro 2012 qualifier against Macedonia at the Aviva Stadium.
Moyes admits Everton are fortunate to have benefited from the youngster's swift development.
"He was sixty grand and he's done a brilliant job for us," he told the Liverpool Echo.
"He's been up and down but he's going to be up and down - you don't find an absolute diamond for that money.
"It's very rare that happens so there will be times when he doesn't look completely comfortable."