Tony Pulis was delighted for Jordan Hugill after the striker scored twice in Middlesbrough’s 2-0 victory over Wigan.
The 26-year-old forward hadn’t scored for Boro in the Championship before the meeting at the Riverside, where Boro had failed to win for four league games.
But Hugill’s first-half double against the Latics, the first of which came from the penalty spot, helped Boro keep up the pressure on their promotion rivals.
As Pulis explained after the game, the striker has endued a difficult time in recent months – but the Boro boss hopes Hugill can now kick on.
“I was really pleased that Jordan got the two goals,” said Pulis after the game.
“What people have missed, and I’ve said it before, is that the lad went from Preston to West Ham and was never involved in any football at all in the Premier League.
“Then in pre-season, he got an injury, so he hasn’t really done anything for six months.
“He came here really cold, his fitness levels were nowhere near those of the rest of the group, but he’s worked really hard and in the last few games, we’ve seen some good signs.
Boro took the lead in the 38th minute when Cedric Kipre brought down George Friend in the penalty area and Hugill converted the spot kick.
The striker added his second six minutes later, after heading home Martin Braithwaite’s cross.
Pulis was pleased that Hugill put himself forward to take the penalty, which broke the deadlock and set the tone for the rest of the afternoon.
As a local lad, Hugill’s desire has never been in doubt, and Pulis was pleased the striker’s hard work has finally paid off.
“The players are delighted for him because he’s such a good lad around the place. He works so hard, and he’s got his qualities,” added Pulis.
“I don’t think this will do him any harm at all.
“Getting the two goals can only help, and to be fair to him, he didn’t want anyone else to take that penalty.
“He was really keen to take it, which is brilliant.
“The great thing about him is that he’s got that little bit of steel about him. He’s a local lad, and he’s desperate to do well for this football club.”