Micah Richards is determined to show Fabio Capello that he can recapture the international form that earned him 11 senior England caps as a teenager - and the perfect stage is beckoning this summer.
City's highy-rated young defender, now 20, is at a Spanish training camp with Stuart Pearce's Under-21 squad gearing up for the European Championships in Sweden that could thrust him back into the spotlight.
England coach Capello has confided that he feels Richards is not quite ready for the step back into senior service, but Micah was City's most-used player in the Premier League and UEFA Cup campaign just ended.
City manager Mark Hughes has saluted his return to sharpness and Richards himself says: "I can't wait for next season already, especially as I feel that I found real form and fitness over the last few weeks.
"The Under-21 Championship is a great stage to test yourself against the best up-and-coming players, so there's a lot to look forward to. We feel that we have a really good chance of doing well.
"I'm really looking forward to the tournament - I believe we have a squad strong enough to win it. The standard is really high and gives us a chance to play against some of the best young players in Europe. That can only help my own game and development."
Pearce's squad, also including Nedum Onuoha and Joe Hart, will fly back this weekend for Monday night's warm-up against Azerbaijan at Milton Keynes. They face Finland in Halmstad on 15th June in their European group opener, with games against Spain and Germany to follow.
Former Blues boss Pearce, who has handed Nedum the armband in the past, has lost several key players but said: "We are very pleased with the overall balance. We're looking forward to competing with the best and hopefully doing our country proud."