Glenn Hoddle gave the 22-year-old the nod over Chris Perry and Gary Doherty to partner Dean in a 4-4-2 system for our opening Premiership matches of the season against Everton and Villa.
And the tall, elegant defender has repaid him with fine displays against the varied threats of Rooney, Campbell, Crouch, Vassell, Allbach and Angel.
Dean has been impressed. "Anthony has been brilliant in the first two games," he stated. "He hasn't put a foot wrong. I thought he did superbly at Everton and he was magnificent again Villa.
"He's had a great start to the season and can go all the way, I've no doubts about it.
"He's quick, strong, he certainly has the height for it and he's comfortable on the ball. He can go a long, long way, definitely."
Dean was delighted how we held on defensively under pressure for Saturday's 1-0 victory against Villa.
"It's a good sign," he added. "We ground it out towards the end.
"They came at us, threw everything at us in the second half and we had to defend in numbers and we got behind the ball and defended well. It was pleasing to get a clean sheet.
"I thought we handled it well. They had a couple of chances and we had a bit of luck at times but I think overall we deserved to win the game."
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Dean Richards is tipping Anthony Gardner for the top.