Mike van der Hoorn has praised Swansea City’s young stars for playing “without fear and full of freedom.”
The Swans ended their first campaign back in the Championship with a respectable 10th-placed finish under Graham Potter, who took over last summer.
Potter saw a number of experienced players depart before the season kicked off, which led to the former Ostersund boss handing numerous opportunities to the club’s younger prospects.
He was rewarded with the rise of winger Daniel James, who went on to earn international recognition with Wales in his first full season of senior football.
Local lad Joe Rodon got his first taste of action with his boyhood club, with the centre-back looking established in the heart of defence during his 28 appearances throughout the campaign.
Another Swansea product, Connor Roberts, was a key figure in Potter’s plans with his high-energy performances at right-back while George Byers also became a prominent part of the manager’s selection.
While Matt Grimes, who picked up four awards at the club’s end-of-season function, and top-scorer Oli McBurnie had previously played first-team football at the Liberty, Potter’s decision to make them vital cogs in his team reaped huge benefits too.
And van der Hoorn, who was stand-in skipper for a large part of the season during Leroy Fer’s time on the treatment table, was full of praise for the impact made by Potter’s pups.
“The younger players were given a lot of chances this season, and they have played without fear and full of freedom,” said the Dutch centre-back. “They stepped up and did a great job.
“It’s funny because I am only 26 but I am one of the older members of the team. But it’s great to see these young players expressing themselves.
“Daniel James gets supporters on their feet every time he gets the ball – you can sense the anticipation and excitement every time he is in possession.
“Then there’s the goals Oli scored and the work-rate he has, while Matt Grimes has been absolutely fantastic in each position he has played.
“I’ve seen Joe Rodon improve a lot too. He did very well in his first season in the Championship and playing for his local team. It means a lot to him.
“Cameron Carter-Vickers also did excellent too. I played alongside him and Joe a lot, and Cam was like a rock in defence.
“So for me to see these players come through has been very pleasing. The manager was rewarded for showing faith in these players, and it’s exciting knowing they are only going to get better.”