Manchester City boss Sven Goran Eriksson is full of praise for Michael Ball over the way he has fought to get back into his first team.
Eriksson told City's website: "If you compare him now to how he was back then, then yes, I am very surprised. He's very mature now, especially tactically, and today he's a top class left back. He can also play in central defence if we need.
"He is not old, but he's already been around for a few years and has built up a lot of experience, he's a very steady player.
"He's played well on the left hand side, as Garrido did before Christmas, and it's good for us to have two left backs like that available to us."
This mature approach manifested itself in the time when Michael was out of the City starting line up, but the Manager is impressed with the way the player responded.
"He was a true professional when he was out of the side, which is to his merit. He did not have too many chances this season until almost Christmas, but he was patient and when that chance came to him - and he took it very well indeed."