Having endured two tough years at Manchester City, Scott Sinclair is bidding to make this season the one in which he finally establishes himself at the club.
After helping Swansea City win promotion to the top-flight in 2011, the 25-year-old’s impressive 2011-12 campaign saw him earn a £6.2 million move to the Etihad Stadium in August 2012, where it was hoped he would fulfil his flourishing potential.
However, Sinclair would struggle to see minutes in the side’s star-studded squad, making just three starts in 14 games, with a blood clot in his shoulder marring the end to his first season in Manchester.
A loan move to West Bromwich Albion for 2013-14 garnered just eight appearances and the once-promising winger has been rumoured to be heading for the exit door this summer, as he bids to get his career back on track, but is still holding out hope that he can make the grade under Manuel Pellegrini.
"This is probably one of the best pre-season’s I’ve had. The minutes I’m getting now, I haven’t had that," he told the Manchester Evening News. "I feel great and you can see it in the performances. I'm scoring goals and getting back to my normal self how I was at Swansea.
"Pre-season is probably the most important time for any footballer, to get those games, and I feel great and hopefully now I can get more minutes and be ready for the season.
"As a player you’ve got to go through the tough times, and the last 18 months have been a very, very tough time for me," he added. "Going on loan and getting injured and also having my blood clot the previous year.
"Like I say, all I can do is look forward, play what’s in front of me, and whenever I get the opportunity I’ve got to produce and get the goals whenever I can and just keep playing well."
A well-regarded prospect at Chelsea, Sinclair was loaned out to six different clubs during his time at Stamford Bridge, spending his first full Premier League season at Wigan Athletic in 2009-10, before settling on a permanent move to then-Championship outfit Swansea the following summer.
His performances for the Welsh club seeing him tipped for a call-up to the England side, the former under-21 international’s career has stagnated to the point where it’s hard to imagine him ever getting back to that peak, but his recent pre-season form has at least been an encouraging sign.
Scoring in City’s 5-1 friendly win over AC Milan on Saturday, how Sinclair performs from now until the side’s Premier League opener will likely be crucial in determining his future at the club but, if he proves to be past his recent nagging injuries, then he could well be in the running for a first-team spot.
Nevertheless, with their squad loaded with attacking talent, one has to wonder if it would be best for the ex-Blues youngster to move on permanently from his frustrating spell with the Citizens, though whether he will ever rediscover his former promise remains to be seen at this point.