Mk Dons boss Karl Robinson was full of praise for Alan Smith following the midfielder's full debut for the club.
Smith, on loan from Newcastle for the remainder of the season, made his first start for the Dons in their 1-1 draw at promotion rivals Huddersfield Town.
The former Manchester United man, making his first start since breaking his ankle whilst playing for the Magpies at Sunderland 12 months ago, has returned to first-team football well ahead of schedule.
And the 31-year-old, playing a more advanced role than he has become accustom to, impressed his new manager.
Robinson told the Football league website: "Alan showed how good he is winning tackles and headers. He knocked on my door on Monday and said he wanted to play even though he probably needs four weeks of training to get him fully fit."
He added: "Alan reverted to a holding midfield role at Newcastle but I want him to be the one player given the freedom to unlock defences.
"We have a steely, gritty and hard-working player and I am made up with him."
Smith was taken off by Robinson after 66 minutes,immediately after being booked for a lunge on Huddersfield defender Jamie McCombe.
But the Dons boss denied the booking had any affect on his decision to withdraw the midfielder, adding: "That was his limit.
"I had a few words with him when he came off and he said he loved it. If I quoted exactly what he said the FA might have something to say about it!"
Smith will be desperate to keep a good run of form with his five-year contract at Newcastle due to expire at the end of the season.