Houghton continues to impress Martin in Dons' lynchpin role
Russell Martin is getting the best out of former Chelsea midfielder
Jordan Houghton's stock continues to rise at MK Dons. Growing into one of the key men in the midfield, with some of his best performances coming since Russell Martin took over as manager.
And as his role continues to grow, Martin said his appreciation for the 24-year-old grows with it.
"I love Jordan Houghton!" he said. "I love him as a person and a player. I really believe in him. I don't think he showed what a good player he can be, he needs confidence and needs to feel valued.
"He knows the responsibility we've given him. It's not easy, where we are in the league to play the way we play. We're asking him to take a hell of a lot of responsibility and I take a lot of pride in him that he's doing it well.
"I think he needs to believe in himself a bit more. He's not the most vocal, but he's a leader in the group. I love him, I think the players are really starting to appreciate him and I think so are other people.
"If he can maintain his levels and standards, he has been one of our stand-out performers. He takes a lot of pressure off that back-four. He fights and he wins a lot. I cannot speak highly enough of him."
And Houghton appreciates the support from his manager, admitting: "I should say I love him too or I'll get dropped! He has been really good to be. When he was a player too, I always used to go to him for advice. We'd sit in the jacuzzi before away trips and talk about football. It was good to pick his brains because he has played at the highest level. Now he's the manager, it's even better because he sees the game from the manager's point of view.
"He's trying to help everyone where he can. It's nice what he said about me, but I think everyone feels the same about him too. Performances have picked up and points are coming on board, and that comes with an enjoyable environment."