Mark Hughes has sung the praises of Nedum Onuoha after the City Academy graduate forced his way into the Manager's considerations.
The 22-year-old defender has started the Blues' last five league games, in which time the side have pulled themselves up the Barclays Premier League table into ninth place.
Nedum lined up in the Manager's first City side against EB/Streymur way back in July, but a couple of niggling injuries and fierce competition in the City defence prevented him from staking a claim for a regular berth until around the end of 2008.
The boss says, "I think Nedum has been excellent, and over the last few games he has arguably been one of our most consistent performers.
"His quality and talent has been acknowledged for a long time, but in the past he has been compromised by injuries. If he can get a run of games where he is not being affected by injury, then he will improve markedly
"He's got everything needed for a top-line defender, he has pace, presence and an ability on the ball that is often overlooked."
The England Under 21 international also has his club manager's backing against criticism over his distribution that has come his way in the past, adding:
"That's surprising to me, maybe when he has been at right back people have questioned that part of his game. But as centre-half, everything is in front of him and invariably he picks the right option."
Hughes also admits that City need to brush up their execution at set-pieces, with over a dozen corners against Middlesbrough last Saturday not causing Boro's defence the problems he would have liked.
"We are working at different things but maybe we do need to be a little bit more inventive to cause the opposition different problems. Lads like Dunnie & Nedum do go up and throw their heads at it, but at corners it's about getting the first contact in, either in attack or defence."