Joe Rankin-Costello showed exactly what he could do in the 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough, and Tony Mowbray was happy with the young starlet's display at the Riverside.
Starting for the first time in the league outing, Rankin-Costello appeared for 67 minutes on Teesside, lining up on the left-hand side against Boro.
The 20-year-old never hid, and came out of the contest with a black eye for his efforts after an aerial collision with home goalkeeper Aynsley Pears early on.
And speaking afterwards, Mowbray was proud of the youngster's performance on the big stage.
“Joe Rankin-Costello is athletic, strong, has a brilliant desire to be a footballer and is desperate to play in our team," the boss reflected to iFollow Rovers.
“He’ll take the ball, and it’s a step up, a huge jump to go from playing Under-23s footballer to a Championship footballer.
“There is no doubting that Joe Rankin-Costello is a good footballer and will be a big player for this football club over the next few years.
“I’m pleased with his first start and we were winning 1-0 until he went off.
“The part of our thinking is to promote young players. The owners put a lot of money into the Academy and we need to produce footballers.
“I wouldn’t put them in if they weren’t good enough, and Rankin-Costello is versatile, powerful, and could have scored a goal," he added.
“I’m delighted for him and I’m sure today was the first of many appearances in the first team for him.
“Looking in the mirror at half time, he had a huge black eye, a proper, swollen black eye."