Blackpool boss Gary Bowyer hailed the impact of his captain fantastic Jimmy Ryan on and off the pitch at Bloomfield Road.
Ryan, 29, arrived at Blackpool from neighbours Fleetwood in the summer and Bowyer gave the midfield maestro the armband at the start of this season.
Ahead of tomorrow’s home game against Oxford, Bowyer praised the player who scored his first league goal for two years in Tuesday’s 3-1 win at Plymouth. Bowyer said: “I cannot hail Jimmy enough. The way he plays and reads the game is important to how we want to play.
“He always wants to improve himself, get better and keep learning. As captain he has really stepped up and for me he looks a natural.
“It is not just his experience and ability – he leads by example in training, helps the young players and is a great presence in the dressing room.”
Pool were down to 18 fit players for last weekend’s goalless draw at Scunthorpe but Nathan Delfouneso and Sean Longstaff returned at Plymouth, leaving only Mark Cullen, Armand Gnanduillet and Jim McAlister unavailable.
His side are unbeaten in six but Bowyer will not get carried away. He added: “A good start is all it is at this moment. We have played good football. We have had different challenges along the way and we are still learning, still growing.
“They are a young team but they came through a tough test on Tuesday and we are delighted with that.
“We should have dealt with their goal better but I was pleased with the response from the team, the character. When that goal went in, I turned to the bench and said, ‘We will see what we are about now’.
“They really stepped up another level and I’m really delighted with them. The two goals we scored after that were fantastic strikes.
“You are defined by the actions and reactions to the challenges put in front of you and we have reacted really well. We are developing a very good mentality but that has to continue.”
Pool’s kick-off at Northampton Town on Saturday October 28 has been brought forward to 2pm to avoid a clash with the Northampton Saints rugby union team.