Toto Nsiala admits life is good under Paul Cook who ‘makes you feel like you are the best player in the world.’
The 19-year-old has extended his loan spell from Everton until the end of the season and says that Cook – in charge for eight games – has helped to develop the defender’s game in his short stint at the club.
"The first month I was here I wasn’t doing so well but since he (Cook) has been here I have improved a lot," said Nsiala, with the loan window closing yesterday (Thursday).
"He instils confidence, he makes you feel like you are the best player in the world and that’s what you need when you come out on loan.
"I have learnt a lot from the gaffer and I think it has shown. You want to learn and improve and he makes you feel like you are the best – although I do also think he is scared of me!"
Nsiala, who has played 13 games for the Reds since joining in January, is concentrating on his defensive duties – with the aim to get Cook a first clean sheet – but the tall loanee does want to make an impact at the opposite end.
"I’m getting closer to a goal. I want a goal, every team I have been to I have scored and I haven’t scored here so I want a goal so badly."
Cook got his first win underhis belt against Northampton on Saturday but four draws in their last five games has meant they are 11 points off the play-offs in 13th place with eight games left in the season.
Cook admitted the draw against derby rivals Morecambe on Tuesday did dampen their spirits in their quest to emulate last season’s top-seven spot.
"I am disappointed we didn’t take three points against Morecambe as, if we had realistic hopes of being in the play-offs, then we needed to win against Morecambe, go and get something at Dagenham tomorrow and then beat Oxford on Tuesday," said the Reds boss.
"It seems a mountain to climb at the minute but we will still try and climb it.
"But, on the opposite side, that’s five games unbeaten and, with the teams who are in this league, it’s no mean feat as there are a lot of strong sides about. So we are pleased with that.
"Everyone knows it’s about building for next season and I am starting to see the signs of how I want us to play.
"We are trying to regroup and look to next year and there are some good positive signs."
Cook though does have an injury crisis to contend with. Captain Dean Winnard, who like Luke Joyce has a year left on his contract, is having an operation on his ankle next Tuesday and will be out for the foreseeable future.
Sean Hessey and Bryan Hughes are still sidelined while Tuesday’s goalscorer Peter Murphy (knee) and Padraig Amond (knock) both picked up injuries against Morecambe but are expected to be fit to face the relegation-haunted Daggers tomorrow. Midfielder Alan Burton has returned to training following a hip injury.
"We are struggling injury-wise but we have to soldier on," said Cook.
"With the five-loan player rule it means it’s not worth bringing anyone else in as it’s not the loan players who are injured.
"We are down to the bare bones but that’s life and we will go to Dagenham and set up to try and win.
"We are not great at getting men behind the ball and defending, we don’t have the personnel to do that, so we will go and try and score some goals."
On the plus side midfielder Ian Craney returned to action against Morecambe after being sidelined with an ankle injury since January.
The midfielder said: "It’s just nice to be back. We are not giving up on the play-offs but we need to get something at Dagenham tomorrow and then beat Oxford. Whatever we do though we want a strong run-in to start getting ready for next season."
WINGER Jamie Devitt, scorer of two Stanley goals, has extended his loan from Hull until the end of the season.