The right-back, 26, started in League One for the first time this season – and the first time since last February – out of position at left wing-back at Sunderland on Saturday.
Love had previously only made five appearances for Town this season, including just five minutes of league action, and was frozen out by former boss Sam Ricketts, who did not register him in the league squad.
But the former Sunderland and Manchester United defender coped admirably on his return to the Stadium of Light, where he was used in an unfamiliar role after Charlie Daniels left the club and Scott Golbourne was not deemed fit enough.
Stand-in Town boss Aaron Wilbraham said: "I thought he was unbelievable, honestly, he surprised me just how good he was.
"Just because of the time he's been out. Even in the Lincoln game, where we got beat in the Papa John's Trophy, I thought he was excellent there."Every time he's had a chance he's shown exactly what he can do.
"He's shown he's on board and hungry and that's what you've got to do when you come in the team. I think he's been excellent and I told him that."
Love, who was signed by Ricketts in the summer of 2019, made 38 appearances in his debut campaign for the club, where he was a first-team regular.
But this term saw Love and midfielder Sean Goss fall out of favour under the former Town chief. Both were unable to feature in league action after being omitted from the 23-man squad rule, which came into force under the new salary cap guidelines issued this season.
The right-back's only previous appearance since Steve Cotterill's November appointment was in a heavy 4-1 EFL Trophy exit to Lincoln in December.
Love is unlikely to fill the left-sided too often moving forward as Shrewsbury this week swooped for reinforcement in the shape of Manchester City youngster Nathanael Ogbeta.
Ogbeta, 19, will compete with Golbourne for the role at left wing-back for the remainder of the season.
It had appeared Love had no future at the club and the defender is one of a number of Town players out of contract at the end of the season.
But Wilbraham said any player's long-term future is in the hands of boss Cotterill, who remains absent from the club.
The No.2 said: "Obviously I wouldn't make that decision (on his future), I'm the assistant manager, I'll take players as they come and I think that since we've been in the building Donald has been excellent, professional, even when he wasn't in the squad.
"Those type of people you want to have around the place and those type of people you want around the place, when he comes on he does really well."