Neil McDonald hailed local lad Luke Higham as “magnificent” after handing him a new contract at Bloomfield Road.
The 19-year-old defender has started Blackpool’s last six games after injury to David Ferguson opened the door to the youth-team graduate.
After impressing at left-back in the Seasiders’ run of three wins out of four, Higham has penned a new deal which could keep him at the club for the next two seasons.
McDonald said: “Luke has been absolutely magnificent. I didn’t really want to throw him in so early – I’d much rather have waited until the pressure was off a little.
“But he’s handled everything really well and we’ve rewarded him with a brand new contract he really deserves.”
Blackpool-born Higham is a former season ticket holder and has been with the Seasiders since the age of eight.
It makes him popular among supporters, who have been impressed at the way he has eased into senior action.
Pool have conceded just once in three games and McDonald feels Higham is playing his part. He said: “Luke is very composed on the ball and is a very good one-against-one defender.
“He’s been awaiting his chance and we’ve worked really hard with him. We’ve worked at putting roles and responsibilities into him over the last six or seven months.”
Higham, whose initial contract ran out at the end of this season, managed only three appearances (all in cups) before Christmas. Ferguson and Charles Dunne were ahead of him in the pecking order, prompting talk of a possible loan move.
But McDonald said: “There was no way I was ever going to let him out on loan.
“It’s natural you want to play games, but we had a couple of senior cup games and he really pleased me.
“It was just a matter of time before we put him in. He’s in on merit and has grown with every game.”
Higham is expected to make his 10th appearance at home to Colchester on Saturday and said: “I’m really pleased to sign a new deal.
“I grew up as a fan of the club and making my league debut was a really proud moment for me.
“I’ve been waiting for an opportunity and I think I’ve settled in quickly.
“I know I need to keep working hard to impress the manager and hopefully keep my place.”