Port Vale assistant manager Mark Grew believes Clayton McDonald has proved his fitness after making a recovery from long-term injury.
Defender McDonald was released by Walsall at the end of last season and, because of worries regarding a long-term shoulder injury, was only offered a six-month deal at Vale Park.
But the 22-year-old has started nine times this season, including the last three matches, during which time the Burslem club have been unbeaten.
"We do have to monitor his weight because he's a big lad," Grew told BBC Radio Stoke. "But he's looking after himself and when you do that, it goes onto the pitch. His form is improving with every game.
"We knew Clayton was a solid defender and he's as honest as the day is long. He's a good communicator and great to have in the dressing room.
"He realised when he came that he may have to bide his time and he's done that. He's been very professional and worked hard. He deserves his place in the team at the moment."