Clive Allen believes Dean Marney can start knocking on the first team squad's door again.
The young defender had a taste of the Premiership at the start of the campaign when he appeared as substitute against Birmingham City and Leeds United.
A knee injury then halted his progress and Dean has been trying to pick up the pieces again in the reserves since.
His performance at West Ham on Wednesday night - typically charging up and down the right flank - certainly suggested he was on his way back.
Coach Clive agreed: " Dean was very good all night. He fed the ball into the front players, moved well, made the overlap and got into crossing positions. I thought he was excellent.
"We talked about the final pass which I felt was the only thing that at times let him down but I would have to say he was our best player on the night.
"It's difficult for the young players. Dean's had a taste of the first team and you can see he really wants to get back in there. I think that showed in his game in his determination and endeavour.
"What we need as a football club is competition for places and whoever it might be in the first team, that player needs competition in that position. When Dean is performing like that he can keep Stephen Carr on his toes and that's what we're looking for."