NEIL Lennon has given makeshift right-back Josh Vela a vote of confidence after confirming Kevin McNaughton’s spell on the sidelines is set to continue.

The Wanderers boss is delighted with the way Vela has adapted since moving into the back four from midfield and indicated he would continue in the role at Reading this weekend.

With experienced defender McNaughton still unavailable with a hamstring injury, Lennon has no qualms about keeping faith with the 20-year-old as his side look to extend their unbeaten run to six games.

“It isn’t ideal for Josh, or for us, because Kev McNaughton is out with his hamstring but sometimes you have to make the best of it, and Josh is holding his own very well,” he said.

“We gave him the responsibility. He’s a good athlete, he’s good on the ball – better than what he showed at times against Huddersfield – but he’s played consistently well since he came into the team.”

Vela is currently enjoying his longest-ever run in the Wanderers first team, having started each of the last four games.

It is a far cry from a couple of months ago when, under the stewardship of Dougie Freedman, the 20-year-old was training with the development squad and looking for a way out of the club.

The Salford-born midfielder spent time out on loan in League One with Notts County last season and had been told he could head out again up until Lennon’s arrival in October, when one of the Northern Irishman’s first actions was to bring him back to Euxton for training.

Vela has been joined in the senior ranks by Max Clayton, another youngster who has been given an extended run in recent weeks.

And while Lennon is also looking for improvement from the former Crewe striker – currently being employed in a wider role – he has praised the readiness with which he has adapted to the new position.

“Max is doing okay, he’s another player who seems to get better as the game goes on,” the manager said.

“He’s a little bit too eager at times, which is the exuberance of youth I suppose.

“Josh Vela is similar. He’s playing out of position and both are doing a very fine job for us.

“The experience they are getting is fantastic for them and when you are in a winning team it breeds a lot of confidence.”

It is not yet known how long McNaughton will be out of action but the Scot’s fitness problems this season have been such that he has started only four of the last 18 games in all competitions.