THRUST into the Premier League limelight at 17 and coveted by Liverpool before he had played a minute of senior football, you can forgive Josh Vela for having the Salford swagger of a lad twice his age.

Of all the youth products to have come through the system in recent seasons, Vela has been the one they have all been talking about.

Confident, robust, athletic; the young midfielder does not seem to have let the fact that everyone has tipped him for the top affect him travelling in that direction. And it seems the hype has spread further than the confines of Bolton, with former Anfield boss Kenny Dalglish attempting to wrestle him away from the club last summer in a deal that was instantly worth £1million.

Some could view all the attention as a hindrance but from the moment Vela bounced on to the scene with substitute cameos against Swansea City and Sunderland, you got the feeling that is just the way he likes it.

“I’ve never felt pressure, I just wanted to do well,” he told The Bolton News , after another impressive performance against Ayr in Wanderers ’ first pre-season outing. “It was all about getting to the first team and now I’ve finally done that. Now I want to push on.

“The gaffer has been fantastic. He gave me my chance, even though it came because of a few injuries, but they are the ones you’ve got to take.

“Now I’ve had a good break and it’s good to be back with the first team. But I want to push on.”

Vela has been with the club since under-9 level, and in terms of service to Wanderers, is only outranked by fellow Academy graduate Joe Riley in Owen Coyle’s squad.

Now he has made the senior ranks, however, the former Hope High School pupil – who has yet to pass his driving test – is determined to steer his own career path.

“I got a few minutes against Swansea City for my debut, which was great,” he said. “But I got 25 minutes at Sunderland, there there were a few nerves. I just wanted to get on the ball and show what I can do.

“There is a lot of competition this season but I want to get into the team. If I didn’t get the chances then maybe I’d go out on loan, but it’s all about games. Reserve-team football gets a bit too easy, so it’s time to push on. This is a big season for me now.”

Vela models his own game on that of England skipper and Liverpool legend, Steven Gerrard, but insists he knew nothing about the Reds’ interest when it materialised last summer.

Coyle wanted to keep a lid on the bid as best he could but, speaking for the first time about Dalglish’s interest, he insisted a move would never have been sanctioned.

“That happened last August and we kept it in-house because we want to keep hold of our best young players. I have always said that,” the manager said.

“We’re not working hard in our Academy to give up our best players. That’s always going to be the way forward for us.”

Coyle is confident he can utilise Vela’s potential and hinted he could play a prominent role in the Championship this season now that he has broken through the glass ceiling and made his way into the senior ranks.

“Josh played in the Premier League for me last year at 17 and there’s no doubt he’s got a very big future,” he said.

“He’s matured but, of course, he’s not the finished article. He’s only a kid and there are bits and pieces he does need to add to his game. He’ll learn and he’s certainly heading in the right direction.

“You’d argue the only thing he hasn’t got is game experience but he can only get that by being out there.”