Date: 15th November 2005 at 7:03pm
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Nicky Butt is tipping fellow Birmingham midfielder Neil Kilkenny to go a long way in the game after impressing in recent matches.

Blues boss Steve Bruce had been keen to ease former Arsenal trainee Kilkenny gently into the first-team picture.

But a crippling injury list found the 19-year-old thrown into the deep end and he has responded with several highly promising performances.

He was one of the few players to earn praise from Bruce after the home defeat to Everton and impressed when given his chance in the starting line-up at Newcastle 10 days ago.

Butt said: ‘Neil is a very talented and gifted footballer. If he is continues what he is doing, and carries on listening and learning, I think he can go a long way.

‘I think it is daunting to make the step up but it is also an exciting time and you’ve got to prove yourself because it’s something that you have always wanted.

‘When I was coming through as a young lad at Manchester United there were four or five of us together and that helped. But Neil is not a shy lad. He fits in well and he’ll do very well.’

Bruce added: ‘Neil has showed no fear. I’ve been trying to protect him a little bit because of his age but he has done well for us.

‘When I brought him on as a sub against Everton he did fantastic and was the one who looked like he was going to make something happen for us and he also did well at Newcastle.’

Butt will be available for next Monday’s home Premiership clash with Bolton after being ineligible for the game with Newcastle due to the terms of his loan deal.