Darren Wassall says Will Hughes return will be like a new £20m signing for Derby County

Derby County midfielder Will Hughes has not made an appearance since the first day of the season.

Darren Wassall has told the Derby Telegraph that when Will Hughes returns to fitness, it will be like Derby County have made a £20 million signing.

Hughes has been out since the first day of the season, after he damaged his cruciate ligament against Bolton Wanderers.

However, the 20-year-old is set to make a return ahead of schedule, as he has started to take part in warm-ups during training.

And Wassall said: "We would love it to be this season because it would be like having a £20m signing.

"We rate him that highly. He is a fantastic player, a great talent but we are certainly going to take good care of him because that is our job.”

Hughes is expected to return to full training for Derby in two weeks’ time, as he steps up his recovery even further.

The England youth international has so far been able to take part in some passing drills, but he has not participated in any of the exercises which involved contact.

And Wassall insists that he will resist the temptation of bringing Hughes straight back into his team, as he does not want to take any risks with such a talented young player’s future.

"If all goes well he will be available for selection at some time this season," the Rams boss added.

"But we are certainly not going to rush him because it has been a big injury and he has got a long career ahead of him."

Despite his tender years, Hughes has still racked up well over 100 appearances for the Rams, and he could play a key part in their promotion bid if he does return before the end of the campaign.

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