Kenny Jackett believes Kevin McDonald has the potential to be heading into the best years of his career after he was linked with a first senior Scottish call-up.
Scotland assistant manager Mark McGhee has confirmed that the 25-year-old midfielder is on the radar of boss Gordon Strachan and may be considered for one of the end-of-season internationals.
McDonald’s form has been a revelation in recent weeks, and Jackett’s message is to make sure he carries on maintaining those standards between now and the end of the season.
The Head Coach said: “The key to it is for Kev to keep playing well for Wolves, and if you do and he can maintain his form then you never know where it can take him.
“To get international recognition would I’m sure be a dream for him.
“It can really help him, his self-esteem and his self-confidence if that did happen.
“It is interesting to know that he is on the international squad radar and that they are following him and picking him up.
“I think he is maturing as a footballer, and he has his best years ahead of him which is a good thing.
“He’s got good experience, he’s been to a few clubs and now you are looking at the next four, five or six years -they should be interesting for Kevin McDonald.
“It is there for him if he wants to do it because he is coming into his prime.”
Jackett was delighted to sign McDonald from Sheffield United at the start of the season, and tinkered with his positioning to use him as more of a holding midfielder.
He is also set himself the challenge of developing his physical conditioning to make him even more of an all-round midfield player.
“Kevin needed to progress and I think he is just coming into his best years,” said Jackett.
“It is now really up to him how much he wants to push himself.
“He has done very well on the ball.
“He has to keep working defensively and he has to be aware because for that holding midfield role - it is a role where he had a bit more freedom at Sheffield United then perhaps I have given him - but as a defensive midfield player you have to be tactically aware and not get out of position.
“And then also in your own box you are accountable and you must mark as well.
“It is those combinations that I have been working at with him, as well as his physical conditioning. “You look over an 18 month period, you can make yourself quicker and you can make yourself stronger.
“It is a good chance to use the staff and the facilities here to be as strong as you can.
“If you go mad over a month that can impact on your games and your playing.
“But if your body gets used to working on weight training little and often, then you look over a year and a half period to get your body fat as low as possible, try to get your flexibility good, and then once you’ve got those two things really get your power to improve.
“If he can, with the football he has got, develop genuine power then he’s looking at a very good improvement.
“It is something I said to him on Day One - he needs to be as strong and as powerful as he can.
“You look at the top level lads, whether they’ve got it naturally or not, that is what you have to aim for now - they are fantastic athletes and physical specimens.”