BACK in the late Nineties when Mark Hudson was starting out his footballing journey at Fulham, life as a young professional was a case of observing and learning from your elders and pretty much speaking when you were spoken to.
The Huddersfield Town captain is the first to admit that things are somewhat different these days and he views it as no bad thing either.
Confidence, not to be mistaken for brashness or arrogance, is a quality that all young professionals need in order to enhance their prospects of achieving their footballing goals.
Hudson sees a fair quantity of it at Town’s Canalside training base, with the likes of young professionals Philip Billing and Flo Bojaj having already made their mark this season.
The latter was handed his debut on Tuesday against MK Dons on a night when fellow development players William Boyle, Duane Holmes and Billing were also on the bench.
The educational, technical and physical development of young players is something that Town place great stock in.
With them shown a clear and defined pathway into the first-team squad, young players are well catered for at this club more than at many.
Albanian-born teenager Bojaj, 19, made an impact in midweek in setting up Town’s second goal in the 2-0 win over MK, with manager Chris Powell having made no bones about the importance of development players earning their first-team stripes in the right circumstances and at the right time.
All things being equal, expect more development players getting the nod between now and May.
Hudson said: “I can’t remember that far back to my debut, but you have not got to be nervous and play your game. We have that in this group. They are raring to go.
“When I was young, I remember having the likes of Chris Coleman and Lee Clark, who were senior pros, and others such as Andy Melville around.
“What we are trying to do now is bring people through and make people feel welcome; I don’t know if it was different when I was younger, maybe we were a bit more nervous.
“But the youngsters are a lot more confident now and raring to go and get the shirt, which is great.
“We are a young squad barring me and Deano (Dean Whitehead). We all look after each other and are a good group. The young boys have done fantastic when they have come in, like Phil at Charlton when he had 45 minutes.
“You can see the progress and in the last four weeks he’s progressed so much more and so much more has come out of him after getting on the pitch and seeing what it is like being out there.
“It maybe gives them that edge for them to think, ‘I can actually do this and I can go on to have a good career maybe at this level’.
“Hopefully, that can happen for everyone involved.
“It’s a young bench and we are going to need them through this season.”
Putting their bodies on the line for the common cause on match-days is just part of the day job for Town’s two ‘old-stagers’ in Hudson and Whitehead.
In terms of age, just two and a half months separate the pair who turn 34 in the new year, but their value to the Town squad carries significant weight in more ways than one.
On it, it is a case of displaying leadership. Off it, it is all about setting the right example and standards to the next generation of players coming through.
Hudson, back in the heart of defence following an ankle injury, added: “Of course, you have an off-field role, and I think me and Dean do that anyway. People like us, in the way we do day-to-day training and the way we work, hopefully bring a level of calmness –- although you have to ask everyone else what they think of that.
“It’s a case of going about our jobs, keeping people together and laughing and joking when it’s time to do that. When it is time to be serious, we batten down the hatches and do that as well.
“But you make all the players welcome and part of it. You don’t isolate them because you want to make them feel more comfortable and come out of their shells.”
Town have certainly come out of their shells in terms of the current campaign and head into today’s attractive-looking home match with former team-mate Jacob Butterfield’s Derby County with momentum after a restorative run of just one defeat in their past six outings.
It is a far cry from the opening month of the season when Town did not win any of their first seven outings in all competitions until triumphing 2-1 at Powell and Hudson’s former club, Charlton Athletic, on September 15.
Hudson added: “It’s a long season and even though we had a tough start, we felt we’d be all right. It takes patience and look at us now.
“A lot was made of pre-season and we had a tough start. But we know how long this season is and we wanted our first home win and got it sooner rather than later and we have got it now and are away and going.
“You can overthink things and we knew things would turn a corner at some point.
“When December comes, the games will come thick and fast and we know we are going to have to make sure everyone stays fit as we’ve a small squad and me and Dean will make sure we will stick together.
“That is probably what is getting us results, working from front to back. As a team, anyone who comes in knows their role to get to the level of pushing on to retain the shirt.”