Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes thinks Dean Campbell is on the path to becoming a top player after the midfielder signed a new deal.
The Dons confirmed the 18-year-old has signed a two-year extension, keeping him at the club until at least the summer of 2023.
Campbell has made 28 appearances for the first team since graduating from the club’s youth academy, including 16 this season in the absence of more experienced middlemen Craig Bryson and Funso Ojo.
McInnes said: “You look at players as they hit a certain age through their career.
“The top players, by the time they’ve reached 18 or 19, have accrued a certain amount of minutes in somebody’s first team. Dean is within those parameters.
“Rather than looking at what he hasn’t done, I’d rather look at what he has done. To play 28 games at his age is a credit to him.
“He’s done well in games. He can do better. There are improvements in him clearly.
“Some contract negotiations are easier than others and this was as easy as it’s been.
“That’s not because we just assume he’s going to sign because of what’s in front of him, but he’s clearly an intelligent boy who wants to do his best for this club.
“We feel the improvements will come with Dean in the next few years and hopefully with the next contract I’m sitting talking about it’s on the back of him being an established player for Aberdeen.
“That’s now the challenge for him and other young players, to be what Scott McKenna is and what Lewis Ferguson is.”
On how Campbell, who came on as a substitute in the 3-0 loss at Easter Road last weekend, can improve his game, McInnes added: “In and out of possession he’s got to bring more robustness.
“The defensive part is something he’s aware he has to improve. I also want him to improve himself in possession, to get more touches on the ball and be a more controlling player for us.
“I want him to pass forward more and score more goals – there’s loads Dean can improve on and I think he’s capable of those improvements.”
Lifelong Dons fan Campbell told the Aberdeen website: “It was not something I was expecting, but when I heard about the offer to extend my deal, I was very happy to sign to it.
“It’s Christmas come early for me.
“As a huge Aberdeen fan, and having been with the club for 10 years now, it’s an honour and a privilege to play for the team my family and I have supported all our lives.
“With the security of a new deal behind me, I can focus on my football.
“I will work as hard as I can to try to secure a first-team spot.
“My aim is to kick on and get as much game time as I possibly can between now and the end of the season.”