Notts County manager John Sheridan praised the influence of Alan Smith as a model professional following the Checkatrade Trophy defeat to Sunderland U21s.
The midfielder was one of County's best performers at the Stadium of Light as Notts lost 2-1 to two late goals but Sheridan saw plenty of positives, particularly from the veteran.
He said: "Alan is 36 years old and what I love about him is his enthusiasm for the game. It was as if he was making his debut when he was putting his boots on.
"I've watched how he played tonight and how he wants to do everything right. He gets disappointed when he has to come off.
"I didn't want to take him off but he had cramp."
Smith was deployed as a striker, harking back to his early days in the game, and Sheridan says the former Manchester United man's performance has given him another option to choose from moving forward.
He continued: "He was a quality player in his day and he has shown that he can probably still play up front so he's given me a little bit of thinking to do."