Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale believes Jimmy Keohane deserves his new contract, after showing signs of progress in the second half of the Grecians ill-fated npower League One relegation season.
Keohane arrived in Devon following his release by Bristol City last summer, and he impressed during last year's pre-season campaign. The 21-year-old Irishman was handed a one-year deal by Tisdale and made his debut in the Carling Cup defeat by Liverpool, with the Exeter squad ravaged by injuries at the time.
Keohane went on to make five further appearances for the St James' Park club's first team – all as a substitute – but, behind the scenes, he was working hard on improving his game with development coach Andy Tillson.
Tisdale, City's manager, feels that hard work has paid off with a significant improvement to his game and the reward of a new contract with the Grecians. The midfielder's one-year deal was announced this week.
"Jimmy played in the early part of the season when there was an opportunity for him because of injuries," Tisdale recalled. "He played at Charlton, at home to Liverpool and against Notts County, and he played that 'runner from midfield' role for us.
"He was playing better towards the end of the season, but there was no opportunity for him to play in the side. Jimmy is value for money and potential for us and he will be more than happy to continue with us because I think he knows he has been improving since January/February."
Keohane would often be the last one off the training pitch at the club's Cat and Fiddle and, while many other players were leaving work for the day, he would be out on the pitch in all weather improving aspects of his game.
"I think that speaks for itself," Tisdale said. "Some elements of his game are improving very, very fast and it is no surprise with the way he trains and the work he puts in.
"Andy Tillson has a lot to say in their development, but he can't make them do it. Andy will help them and there are some players that take it and some that don't. Some players take it on board, like Jimmy, like Scot Bennett, like Elliot Frear, like Aaron Dawson and they knuckle down and get serious. If they get serious, we have an opportunity for them.
"We have to get the balance of the squad right, it is not just about the first-team players, it is about squad players and young players as well. Jimmy is a player who has developed really strongly since Christmas and he is in that bracket where I'm hoping for rapid development and you don't know where he will end up, so I am pleased that he has signed."