Stephen Ireland was Manchester City's player of the year last season, but illness has restricted his chances this campaign. Now City boss Mark Hughes has urged the talented midfielder to be patient following a period of frustration.
The manager said: "We've changed the shape of the team.
"For the majority of the season last year we played 4-3-3, but we have changed to a 4-4-2 more often than not this year.
"Nigel and Gareth became a pair when Stephen went out of the team, did well, so Stephen has found it a little difficult to get back in.
"It's not really a reflection on how he is playing because he is doing exceptionally well in training games, or whatever.
"So on a daily basis he is getting back to where he knows he is comfortable with, and he is a great option for us.
"It's about him being patient and biding his time and he will get opportunities, he knows that.
"He is too good a player to keep out of the team for too long."