Mat Sadler has hailed the recent performances of goalkeeper Maik Taylor and claimed that Birmingham City are lucky to have the Northern Ireland international as the foundation of their Championship challenge.
Sadler, whose form in the troublesome left back position has been one of many bright spots for the club this season, last night paid tribute to Taylor and the fact that he has kept five clean sheets in the last six league games and conceded just once.
Both players have been at the heart of Birmingham's resurgence and have benefited from the desire of manager Steve Bruce to retain selectoral consistency in important positions.
As a result Sadler, with 14, ranks behind only Radhi Jaidi and Gary McSheffrey, both 15, in terms of outfield appearances in the current campaign and Taylor has played in but one of City's 18 league matches.
Together with Jaidi, Martin Taylor and Stephen Kelly the two men form the most parsimonious rearguard in the division but Sadler believes it is the last line of defence which is at the heart of Birmingham's success.
"He is an international class goalkeeper," the 21-year-old said. He definitely has the ability to play for one of the bigger clubs in the Premier League — that is without doubt.
"We are lucky to have him in the Championship, he is a fantastic player. It's brilliant to play in the same side as someone like that."
Taylor's form this season has been hugely impressive. He has rebounded from the shattering blow of relegation and returned to his imposing best with a string of dominant displays as No 1.
He almost single-handedly secured a victory for Birmingham at Plymouth Argyle earlier this month and Jody Craddock's late equaliser for Wolverhampton Wanderers last Saturday was the first time he had been beaten in more than nine hours of league football.
But as impressed as Sadler is with the goalkeeper's physical attributes, it is his on-field persona that stands out most.
"He is a real leader from the back for us — an integral part of that back five," he continued. "He can do it all stop shots, claim crosses and communicate with the rest of the team.
"That's what he does really well. The communication from behind us is excellent. Every side needs a few vocal players and Maik is definitely one of ours. That comes from his vast experience of the game."
Which even at the age of 35 continues to increase, particularly so given the fact he has reclaimed his place in the Northern Ireland side from Roy Carroll.
Taylor also played a massive part in the country's historic 3-2 win over Spain and has kept clean sheets in each of the province's last two outings — a creditable 0-0 draw in Denmark and a 1-0 home victory against Latvia.
Meanwhile Peter Till has joined League Two side Grimsby Town on a one month loan and became the third youngster to agree a temporary deal in one day.
Till follows Nick Wight, who has moved to Northampton Town, and Mat Birley who has gone to Lincoln City, and goes straight into Alan Buckley's side to face Accrington Stanley at Blundell Park on Saturday.
The 21-year-old winger recently returned from a similar loan spell with League One strugglers Leyton Orient after making four appearances for the London side and had previously spent time on loan at Scunthorpe United and Boston United last season.
Wright had just come back from a spell with Bristol City during which he came to the attention of Northampton manager John Gorman.
"We saw him play for Bristol City during his month there and he impressed us," the former England coach said. "He is a player who has plenty of pace and gives us a different option.
"He can play either wide or centrally and we feel we need this sort of player at the moment. He is young, full of energy and very keen to do well."