Cottee, reflecting on Hines' performances for the reserve-team, told whufc.com: "Looking back to that reserve game [a 6-0 win against Birmingham City] everyone was talking about [Alessandro] Diamanti and the return of [Valon] Behrami but I left the ground that night very excited about what I had seen from Zavon.
"He had already scored the goal against Millwall, which I thought was a really good finish. You could see the confidence that came after scoring that goal. I think the challenge then for Zavon was to get into the team and to stay in the team."
Hines soon cleared that first hurdle as he was given his full Barclays Premier League debut at Wigan Athletic on 12 September. Two more appearances against Liverpool and Bolton Wanderers have followed and Cottee believes Hines has done enough so far to retain his place at Manchester City on Monday.
"Although I wasn't at the Wigan game, I spoke to Tony Gale and he said that he had done really well for a full debut in the Premier League. Although it was a disappointing result, he was one of our best players.
"I was at the Liverpool game and I thought he was our best player. He gave Glen Johnson a tough time and looked dangerous with some of his skills. He did everything right in the first couple of minutes apart from putting his chance it in the net. It might well have changed the game.
"And then, by all accounts, he did well at Bolton the other night. I felt that the challenge that lay ahead for him was to get in the team and stay in the team and I am really thrilled for the lad that he's got in there and he's taken his chance. He looks like a real prospect."