PETER JACKSON kept his word by having James Hand on the bench at Port Vale last Saturday.
It meant all 23 members of his first-team squad have featured in a match- day 16 already this year.
It completed a big week for Hand, Town's No. 30, who played for the Repuplic of Ireland Under 21s in Luxembourg the previous Wednesday and celebrated his 20th birthday on Sunday.
The young Dubliner didn't come off the bench in Burslem, but it seems certain the man who earned a new one-year contract in the summer will feature before long.
"James is a really good prospect and he will have benefited from the whole experience of Port Vale, even though he didn't play," said Jackson.
"He has a lot of hard work ahead of him still, but he has the attributes required to be a success.
"His versatility is a big bonus, because while we have been using him as a left-sided player, he played central midfield for the Under 21s."
Aaron Hardy and John McCombe have also come into the picture over the last few weeks, and Jackson is delignted with both of them.
"It's another sign of the strength of our Academy system," he said.
"We don't have the largest squad in the division, by a long way, but the players who are in it can all do a job for me.
"In that sense, I think it's the strongest squad I've had since I came back, and it's also a very unified group, which is always going to be important.
"I said before the season started that all 23 players would feature, and that's happened already."