Hull City's Keane Lewis-Potter has been awarded the EFL’s Young Player of the Month award for September, following an impressive opening month in Sky Bet League One.
September was a fantastic month for Grant McCann’s side, in which Lewis-Potter shone in attack with two goals and an assist in three league appearances, as Hull picked up three wins from their opening three Sky Bet League One fixtures.
McCann’s side also backed September’s league form up in the Carabao Cup, advancing to Round Three in what was a busy September schedule.
“It’s an unbelievable award to win, to be honest,” Lewis-Potter said, speaking exclusively to the EFL on receiving the award.
“With 72 Clubs in the EFL, for me to win it across all divisions for the opening month of the season is unbelievable, really.
“It’s all started pretty well for me. I scored in the penalty shootout against Sunderland in the cup, got a goal in the EFL Trophy and got two goals and an assist in the league. For me I don’t think it could have gone much better."
Having made his breakthrough at the start of the year midway through the 2019/20 season, Lewis-Potter became the first player born in the new millennium to represent the club when making his senior debut, and the lively youngster has become an integral part of Grant McCann’s side, despite still being just 19 years of age.
There is definitely cause to believe that this is a journey that's only just beginning.
"It was such a special moment for me,” he continued. "Making my debut, in front of the Hull fans as well, I can’t really put that moment into words. It was really special and I’ll never forget it.”
And with a young manager like Grant McCann who fully believes in youth, there’s no surprise that Lewis-Potter has gone on to establish himself as a regular in the side this season.
"When he first came in as manager, he took a few of us into his office and said ‘if you’re good enough, you’re old enough’. So it doesn’t matter about age to him, he likes to develop young players and, as long as we’re playing well and training well, we know we’ll play on a Saturday. He’s been unbelievable with me so far, and long may it continue.
"I think that, as a youngster, you play with no fear... you have to. Last season I got about 21 Championship appearances under my belt and it’s definitely helped me with this season. It’s made me more confident; I’m starting more games already this year and it’s just given me a boost."
‘One of our own’ is what fans were singing last season, and he really is. Having grown up in the area, before signing for the club at 14, Lewis-Potter was often in the stands supporting the Tigers, including at Wembley in the 2016 as they defeated Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship Play-Off Final.
"I’m a local lad myself, I support my hometown club and I’ve seen the club get to Wembley a couple of times. I’ve seen them get promoted and I’ve always wanted to do that myself for this football club.
“It’s so much more special for me playing for the club that I support and that I’ve watched from the stands myself. I know what it means to the fans, especially at this club - when I’m on the winning side of this team, there’s no better feeling for me.”
Having suffered relegation from the Sky Bet Championship last season, Grant McCann spoke earlier this month on the Official EFL Podcast of his hopes of changing the culture and the mind-set within the club, using relegation as a motivating factor for his Hull side this season.
And it's one that appears to be filtering down to the players onto the pitch, with Hull currently sitting third in the league table and playing with confidence.
"Last season was disappointing with relegation, of course it was,” Lewis-Potter admitted.
“But the only way we can bounce back from that is by winning games this season. It was very tough, not just for us as players but for the fans and coaches as well, but we want to put it right this season.
“As soon as it happened, we just wanted to get back playing as soon as possible and show what we can really do as a squad.
“Mind-set and mentality is huge. I think we’ve all got a strong mentality and the only way for us to move forward now is to win games. Everything has to be positive at the moment and, fortunately, we’ve started positively. If we can continue like that, I genuinely think we’ll have a good season and we’ve only got one aim: to get back up into the Championship.”
At the start of the year, Hull of course lost Jarrod Bowen, who made the step up to the Premier League, leaving behind an impressive record: over a century of appearances and half a century of strikes in all competitions for the Tigers. A former Young Player of the Month winner, too, and a shining example of youth development in the EFL. Can Lewis-Potter follow in Bowen’s footsteps? He certainly hopes so.
"It’s huge for someone like me to be able to see someone like Jarrod Bowen achieve what he did here and then move on to a Premier League club.
"He’s an inspiration for a lot of us young players, he’s been in our position and now he’s thriving in the Premier League. To be able to have trained with him and played with him was a really great experience for me.
"For me now, I just want to play as many games as possible. I want to continue to start games and I want to score and assist as many goals as I can to help the team as best I can. As a team, we’ve all got this massive push to get promoted back to the Championship."