ALAN Knill believes Stephen Dawson is one of the best midfielders in League Two.

The 22-year-old Irishman has been a revelation since moving to Gigg Lane from Mansfield over the summer, and he has been one of the driving forces behind Bury’s stunning start to the season.

He has struck up a fine partnership with fellow countryman Brian Barry-Murphy in the centre of midfield, and is fast becoming a terrace favourite with his all-action displays.

He has slotted into the Shakers team straight away, and Knill is delighted to have such a calibre of player to work with.

“I’ve been a big admirer of Stephen for a long time,” said Knill. “I saw him when he was a kid at Leicester, then I saw him at Mansfield.

“Lots of people had asked me who the best midfielder in the league was last year and I told them it was Stephen Dawson.

“I said to them to go and get Stephen if they had any money. I never thought I would get him.

“When it came about that I could get him, we made it clear that we wanted him.”

Knill, who is moulding a hard-working but technical side at Gigg Lane, added: “I think I can make him better. He is a good footballer and he can do most things with the ball.

“Right now, the most important thing is for him to stop the opposition playing, but hopefully we can give him more freedom as time goes on and he can express that he is a good footballer.

“He sees danger really well. He needs to be more disciplined, sometimes he is all over the place, and against better teams they will hurt you. But that will come.”

The player, who lists Roy Keane as his all-time hero, admits he is enjoying every minute of his move to the North-west. Dawson was part of the Mansfield team that was relegated to the Conference at the end of last season, so he is delighted to be at the other end of the table with Bury.

“It’s early doors and it’s a long hard season but we’ve had a great start,” said Dawson. “We’re unbeaten at home and we can feel confident about the two away games we have coming up.

“We’ve got a good squad and everyone is pulling their weight.

“I can’t praise the players, manager and fans enough. Everyone has welcomed me with open arms and the main thing is that it’s nice to be at the top of the table.

“We have got good team spirit, we haven’t got a very big squad but we’re digging deep. I try to give it my all and hopefully the supporters are proud of all the boys at the moment.”