Millwall boss Neil Harris has lauded the ability of Ben Thompson after the midfielder put pen-to-paper on a new long-term contract at The Den on Monday.
The 23-year-old acts as the next piece of the jigsaw in the manager's 2019/20 plans, and he told millwallfc.co.uk of Thompson's importance to the squad with the first day of pre-season training just two weeks away.
The midfielder spent a successful period on loan at Sky Bet League One side Portsmouth in 2018/19, before returning to SE16 and spearheading The Lions' bid for survival in the run-in.
"It's brilliant. Ben's progression has been remarkable," Harris said. "He has been away and had a continuous run of games at the top of League One with Portsmouth, and that has really benefited him on the back of a stop-start season last year.
"The reason he went there was to have 20 games in a row - he got that. He came back to us, hit the ground running, scored some important goals, put in some important performances and got a few Man of the Match awards.
"He showed his quality playing as a holding midfielder in a two-man midfield, but also playing as a number 10 and running forward, too. That shows adaptability and understanding of the roles. He lifted the crowd, lifted the changing room and galvanised us at times as well."
Harris went on to admit that standards in training will have to echo that of a matchday next season, and Thompson could be somewhat of an example for others to follow - as well as explaining how the Lions fan can impact performances in 2019/20.
"He became really important for us. Sometimes, when you haven't got a player, you realise how important they are. He needed to get minutes regularly, so we let him go out, but it isn't until someone is away - not just on the pitch, but off it - that you realise.
"Ben is a big character and well liked amongst all the boys. The way players attack everything is going to be a big thing for me next year - training as well as matches. I want the same tempo, the same attitude and the same mindset in both, from every single player. Ben certainly fits into that category.
"He certainly has the ability to break into the penalty area and show the qualities that he showed in the second half of last season. Players who can run forward and score goals are like gold dust. Whether you play 4-4-2, 4-3-3 or variations of it, you need players like that, who have legs and energy in The Championship.
"Having a player who understands how to play as a defensive and attacking midfielder is key. You need players that can run with the ball and attack space - Ben gives us that dimension."