Crewe Alexandra boss Dario Gradi has hinted Nick Maynard is ready to feature in Alex's first team.
Gradi has been keeping close tabs on the 19-year-old this term and is delighted with the progress he has made.
The Gresty Road boss resisted offers to loan out Maynard and now plans on using him as the club look to retain their Championship status.
"For the first time this season, I've looked at him and thought he is close enough to be in the first-team squad. He has made great progress," said Gradi.
"There has been interest in Nicky from a Conference club but I don't want him to go out on loan because I may use him somewhere along the line.
"That is what this club is all about. We give those players we think have a chance of making the grade, a chance to show us what they can do."