David Ball is desperate to catch the eye of Roberto Mancini before the end of the season.
The Premier League debut at Burnley of erstwhile strike partner and long time pal Alex Nimely has only strengthened local lad Ball’s desire to make a mark of his own.
The Manchester-born striker, prolific at both youth team and reserve level, has had the most frustrating of campaigns after appearing destined for big things. He was an unused substitute in the league game at Old Trafford and the Carling Cup win over Fulham before disappointment struck.
He was twice been sidelined with the same foot injury - a broken bone - during the current campaign and it has taken several months for the 21-year-old to get back to full fitness.
A recent outing for the second string against Bolton was an indication that all is well physically.
“The foot felt fine after the reserves game at Bolton, it was more about getting out there and taking my first shot and everything being OK, which it was,” said Ball.
“Because I’ve had the same kind of injury twice in a row, it’s always at the back of your mind when you start playing again that any niggle or ache could be the same problem.
“I’ve been out for the best part of five months so it feels like this season has been something of a write off. It’s been really frustrating but it’s been great to get be in the last couple of reserve team squads and training has been fine so that, hopefully, is the end of it now.”
Ball has also returned to two new managers, with Roberto Mancini replacing Mark Hughes for the first team and Andy Welsh taking over from Glyn Hodges at reserve level during his injury lay-off.
“I know Andy quite well and he seems to have taken to the new role well,” he said. “I liked Glyn Hodges and he was good at what he did, but he was a bit more regimental in his approach while Andy has a more relaxed style.
I was at the top of where I wanted to be at the start of the season and now I’m back down at the bottom in some respects and need to prove myself all over again.
“Things had started really well for me this season but the injuries and change managers means I’m probably six months behind the targets I’ve set myself.
“Roberto Mancini has probably only seen me train a couple of times because of my lay-off but now I need to impress him and show him what I’m capable of.”