WANDERERS boss Gareth Ainsworth admits he's been surprised at the impact midfielder Max Kretzschmar has made this season - before likening his style of play to Lionel Messi.
Ainsworth handed Kretzschmar his Blues debut earlier in the season but the 20-year-old has been in and out of the side throughout the campaign.
Kretzschmar was given a recall earlier this month and responded by scoring twice in two games to take his tally to the season to an impressive five.
Ainsworth said the slightly-built midfielder has fully justified his recall to the team and has cemented his place in the side.
He said: "Even I was surprised at his goal tally and the chances he's creating. I knew he was a creative player with an eye for goal, but I'm slightly surprised at how he's got to grips with breaking from midfield and timing his runs and making his own chances.
"He was always technically very gifted, one of the most intelligent members of the squad. He understands the game better than most. It was the physical side of the game that needed to come through. He's in the gym a lot - not trying to be a big meathead, but trying to be able to use his body the best he can.
"Look at David Silva and Lionel Messi - they use what they have to the absolute maximum, and that's what Max has learnt to do.
"He's a great example to everyone about being patient and waiting for your chance. He's definitely sticking in the team for now."
Kretzschmar's recent inclusion has given the Wanderers midfield an added dash of flair, but Ainsworth said it was impossible to tell with hindsight if he should have been brought back into the team earlier.
He said: "Whether Max would have made a difference or not, you'll never know. It's great to be a Monday morning manager and say what might have been, but he's shown me he's worth his place."
Kretzschmar said of his recent form: "I just want to keep playing and keep scoring. I've always said I wanted to score goals and assist goals going forward and help the team defensively, and I think that's what I'm doing and what the team's doing really well."