Ben Gibson in action on his Boro debut - Photo by North News

Gibson is currently back at Rockliffe Park for treatment having been an ever-present in npower League One Tranmere Rovers' successful start to the campaign.

However, manager Tony Mowbray says the experience he has gained while on loan will play a vital role in preparing the 19-year-old for the rigours of the npower Championship.

"He's playing in a position that's pretty crucial and I've told Ben that," said Mowbray. "It's pretty difficult to throw a 19-year-old into a team that's trying to get us out of this division.

"With a tricky wide player it's a lot easier to get them into the side but it's particularly difficult to do that in central defence.

"At this level they'll be playing against experienced, hardened pros up front. At centre-half, one slip and the ball is in the back of the net and so experience and knowledge is important."

Gibson made his first team debut when he replaced Andrew Davies four minutes before half-time in a 2-1 win over Coventry at the Riverside in April 2011.

Since then he's grasped the opportunity to gain experience on loan and the policy is paying rich dividends.

Mowbray said: "It augurs well for Ben. He's done extremely well at Tranmere and who's to say they won't be in this league next year?

"In the group we have Andre Bikey, Jonathan Woodgate and Seb Hines, who are all more experienced.

"But at some time in the next year or two Ben Gibson is going to be knocking on the door of the first team.

"He's a very, very mature young guy who's very focused and knows what he wants from his career."

York's victorious FA Trophy-wining team, with Ben Gobson far right - Photo by Getty Images

Gibson has enjoyed a dramatic baptism to senior football. He played 16 games on loan at Plymouth Argyle between August and December 2011 as they fought an ultimately successful battle against relegation.

Later in the season he joined York City, helping the Minstermen win the Blue Square Bet Premier play-off final against Luton Town and then returning to Wembley to lift the FA Trophy eight days later.

He had played every minute of the season for Ronnie Moore's table-topping Tranmere before succumbing to the thigh injury that had been troubling him for some time.

Christian Burgess and his Boro team-mates take a drinks break during Boro's first U-21 fixture, v Crystal Palace - Photo by Graham Bell

Mowbray says Gibson's rapid progress sets an example for the rest of the club's promising young defenders to follow.

"I would like to think the next stage in the development of players like Christian Burgess, Adam Jackson and Kyle Oliver are where Ben is now," he said.

"They need to go and play league football. Burgess came from Birmingham University a year ago and to play in the Championship is too big a step.

"But in terms of talent, composure and ability, it's all there."

Middlesbrough-born Gibson's new contract commits him to the club until 2016.