PAUL Lambert reckons teenager Connor Mahoney has the natural talent and self-belief to become a regular in the Blackburn Rovers first-team squad.

Mahoney impressed Lambert on what was his league debut and second appearance for Rovers in the 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night.

It came two years and 92 days after the then 16-year-old became the third youngest player in the club’s history when he stepped off the bench in an FA Cup loss at Manchester City.

Since then lifelong Rovers fan Mahoney has had to wait for another chance but his manager has hinted there will be more to come in the final three games of the Championship campaign.

Lambert was delighted with what he saw from the two-footed winger at the City Ground and afterwards compared the 19-year-old from Blackburn to former Celtic hero Lubomir Moravcik.

The Rovers boss, who played alongside the mercurial Moravcik at the Glasgow giants, said: “Connor will certainly be in and about the squad now.

“I thought he was very good and while he tired a bit in the second half, overall he did very well.

“I needed a manager to throw me in at the deep end and it’s at that point that you either sink or swim.

“I always think as a young player you get one crack at it. If you don’t perform it very rarely comes around again.

“Big players always perform and I thought he handled the occasion really well.

“He’s one of the most naturally two-footed players I’ve seen in a long while.

“I played with a guy called Moravcik at Celtic and you couldn’t tell what foot he kicked with because he was that good – and Connor is the same.

“He’s got fantastic ability with both feet. You can’t tell which his strongest foot is. He can beat people and his delivery is excellent.

“I thought he handled it very well and played with no fear.

“If he can keep progressing, and keep his feet on the ground, then he’s got a chance.

“Now he’ll want more of it. He’ll want to stay in the team – and that should be the attitude for him now.”

And Lambert, who won Scottish Cup with St Mirren when he was 17, is now ready to throw another young gun into the fray.

Left-back Jack Doyle travelled with the Rovers squad to Forest on Tuesday but failed to make the bench.

However the 19-year-old could come into contention for Saturday’s visit of Bristol City to Ewood Park.

Former Borussia Dortmund and Scotland midfielder Lambert said: “The short time I’ve been at the club I’ve seen one or two good kids and I’ve seen them play in the FA Youth Cup and the under-21s.

“Jack Doyle was very, very close to playing. I just thought it would be too much with two young kids coming in but Jack Doyle is another one who is knocking on the door.”