Club captain Barker has failed to make an appearance for the Rams since March 2012, when a long-term injury ruled him out of action.
Rupturing a number of ligaments in his leg, Barker only returned to training at the beginning of the current season, completing light work with the Under-21 side to test his fitness.
Despite missing two full season of Championship football, Barker has remained club captain, and has been involved with the Rams as they reached the Play-Off Final last season.
Sitting on the sidelines has given the 32-year-old a chance to review the on-pitch performances at the iPro from another aspect, and he continues to write a column for the Derby Telegraph for the duration of his recovery.
The midfielder made his 100th appearance for the Rams as they overcame Reading in the League Cup, and Barker is impressed with the ‘outstanding talent’ shown at such a young age by the the England Under-21 international.
He wrote: "He has played this many games so early in his career because he has so much to offer, even at such a young age. He can control a game, he can make a pass and he can score a goal.
"His awareness and ability on the ball is clear to see. He is an outstanding talent.
"There has been some inconsistency, which you expect from a young player, but also fantastic talent.
"He was named in the Championship team of the year at the end of last season and has received a lot of accolades.”
Transfer speculation has surrounded the youngster every year since he made his debut in 2012, but Barker believes that the ‘well-grounded’ nature of Hughes’s mentality has given him the desire to remain with Derby for as long as possible - with first-team football a weekly guarantee.
Barker added: "He is a bright lad and well grounded, which you have to be in his position, given all the expectation and transfer talk that has surrounded him in the last couple of years.
"There always seems to be talk of big Premier League clubs coming in for him but he is keen to stay at Derby as long as he can and learn his trade here, which is great for Derby County.
"He has the ability to step up and it is only a matter of time before we see him in the Premier League, either with Derby or at another club.
"I’m sure he has aspirations to play at the top level. When you have his ability, you have to look to do that.
"But things are working out really well for him here at Derby.
"There is no doubt he has benefited from playing regularly."