HE is barely out of his teenage years but Phil Parkinson has an old head on young shoulders in Reece Burke.

The 20-year-old anchored the Whites’ back three in the cauldron of The Den and showed great poise and leadership way beyond his tender years.

Burke who, along with another White-hot prospect in Josh Cullen, is with the Wanderers squad on loan from West Ham United until the turn of the year. And they are really catching the eye as they continue their development.

While many will have been surprised it seems it is nothing less than Parkinson expected when he sent on a more-than able replacement for David Wheater in the opening-day defeat to Leeds.

“I’m pleased with Reece, he’s a player I’ve worked with before at Bradford,” he told The Bolton News.

“He adds something different to the team, so we were keen to bring him in, he’s got qualities, good pace which is important but also he’s got quality on the ball.

“But first and foremost he’s a defender and when he was called upon he defended well.”

Parkinson knew what he was getting in Burke, as he took him to Bradford City on loan two years ago. His faith in the youngster was repaid when he won the club’s player-of-the-year prize.

And he is not short on experience either, having played top-flight and Europa League football for his parent club as well as gaining England under-18, u19 and u20s caps.

So, despite him having had an injury-hit season with just 10 appearances for Wigan Athletic last time around, making the move to join up with him again was an easy decision for Parkinson.

“I had no doubts about Reece going in the centre at all. In that position in the middle of the back three it’s important to be a good communicator and he really is, and for a young man he’s showed really good leadership qualities so far,” he added.

Burke and his team-mates can expect another hard day’s night tonight at Birmingham City, with the aerial threat Harry Redknapp’s Blues possess.

And ahead of going up against one of the bigger clubs in the Championship Parkinson is relishing the challenge of once again pitting his wits against a manager he clearly has a great deal of respect for.

“It’s fantastic going to St Andrew’s, the lads are relishing it,” he said.

“There’s a spring in everyone’s step after getting the point at the weekend and now we want to go and build on it.

“The mentality will have to be right, it’ll be everyone doing their job for the team first and foremost and we’re going down there looking to give a good account of ourselves and send our travelling supporters back up the M6 in good spirits.

“They’re putting in long throws and they’re a big, powerful side and we’re going to have to be ready to stand up to that, we need to be conscious of their threat, and everyone needs to understand their role in the team, and know it’s going to be similar to Millwall, that type of game, strong and physical.

“Obviously they’re a team where Harry’s still looking to invest but he’s spent a few quid already.

“Harry always has time for everybody and he’s always been good to me as a younger manager, it’s good to see him back in the game. He’s a character who should be in the game because of his record and it will be good to lock horns with him and (assistant manager) Kevin Bond.