For an Irish midfielder, compliments don’t come much greater than a comparison to Roy Keane.
And that’s exactly what Derby County’s Jason Knight received from a first-team coach at the club as Justin Walker, who personally experienced what it was like to train with Roy Keane in the early 1990s, has compared Knight to Ireland’s greatest midfielder.
In an interview on Knight’s development, Walker showered the teenager with praise and explained why such big things are expected of the Dubliner.
“There’s 100 per cent a bit of Roy Keane in him,” Walker told The Athletic.
“I started at Forest as a young kid so I had the first-hand experience of Roy. I watched him develop at a similar age to Jason when he stepped into Forest’s team. It’s not a lazy comparison, there are some comps in there.
“But it comes down to self-drive and motivation.”
Knight has enjoyed a whirlwind 14 months, making his first-team debut for Derby last August and earning his first cap for the Republic of Ireland just two weeks ago.
Starting out playing for Cabinteely as a four-year-old, Knight was brought over to Derby as a 16-year-old prospect and continued to progress quickly.
New Ireland manager Stephen Kenny appears to be a fan of what Knight can bring to the table and by the sounds of things at Derby’s training ground, Ireland could have a much-needed midfield leader ready to nail down a starting place for the Boys in Green.
“He was a real character in making sure the training ground was spiky,” Walker continued.
“He plays on the edge. He’s an ultimate winner, whether it’s tiddlywinks or five-a-side.
“I know the cage, we used to throw the lads in the cage on a Tuesday afternoon and he’s ended up going through one of the boards trying to win the ball.”