A host of the Premier League's top sides seem to be biding their time in signing the 18-year-old who scored in a 3-1 victory over Leeds United on Saturday but it is expected that thorough scouting will turn into bids in the January window.

Liverpool are leading the chase for Hughes with the attacking-minded midfielder already been compared with Reds captain Steven Gerrard.

McClaren who has only been in control for two County matches admits that it will be impossible to keep the England Under-21 international for much longer but hopes to fill the void with another intake of acadamy graduates.

He said on Hughes: "Our job is to make sure he makes it.

"Eventually he will be too good. What we need behind that is players coming through to replace him."

As well as encouraging young prospects through Derby's excellent academy he also hopes the board provide funds so he can make a genuine promotion campaign to the Premier League.