HOPE Akpan felt teenager Ryan Nymabe showed maturity beyond his years on his Championship debut for Blackburn Rovers.

Manager Owen Coyle handed the right back his full league bow in the 1-1 draw with Huddersfield last weekend, a day before his 19th birthday.

Akpan has been impressed with Academy graduate Nyambe in training, so wasn’t surprised to see him flourish on his first start, having made his league debut as a substitute in the 3-2 win over Brentford on November 19.


“I thought Ryan did really well,” midfielder Akpan said.

“For a young lad he showed a real maturity in difficult conditions. We didn’t really play too well and have the best of games, but for him to step in and do as well as he did was only testament to himself.

“He has trained a lot with us so far this season and always done well so fair play to him.”

Akpan has been an unused substitute for Rovers in their last two outings having missed the Brentford win through suspension.

The 25-year-old has had to be patient for opportunities in recent weeks, having not started in the league since the 2-1 defeat to Leeds on September 13, despite being a regular in the opening weeks of the season.

Gordon Greer and Danny Guthrie returned from injury last weekend in a boost to the Rovers squad, while Ben Marshall is back in the fold having served a one-match ban in the Huddersfield draw. And Akpan believes that showcases the strength in depth at Ewood.

“The squad is big, the squad is good, some good players in there, and everyone is trying to make that starting XI,” he added.

“There is that competition for places and that is only going to help us going forward.”

The midfielder was speaking at Darwen Vale High School as part of the Premier League Girls’ Football initiative.

And Akpan, the club’s National Citizen Service (NCS) ambassador said: “It’s been good to come down to the high school and join in with the girls’ football.

“It was high energy, a lot of shots, a lot of tackles, so it was good. When I was growing up these opportunities were few and far between.

“But I know what it means for a player to come down and show their support and the kids responded really well.”