It has been a frustrating time for Jack Rodwell since his move to Manchester City in the summer of 2012.
Having just won the title, former boss Roberto Mancini set about adding some extra quality to City’s ranks and went on a spending spree that saw a number of new players arrive. Scott Sinclair and Maicon were unmitigated disasters and have already left the club (Sinclair only on loan, of course), whilst Javi Garcia has struggled to have the kind of impact he would ideally have liked. Only Matija Nastasic has been a definite success.
Then there’s Rodwell, a player who has impressed hugely when he’s been fit, but due to a cruel succession of injuries is yet to manage a run of games in the side. He showed flashes of what he's capable of last season, and it all looked set up for him to have a better campaign this time around, but he's so far managed just one Premier League start under Manuel Pellegrini.
A defensive midfielder capable of playing at centre-half during his time at Everton, Rodwell was reinvented by Mancini as a box-to-box midfielder. He was free to attack under the Italian, often playing high up the pitch just off a striker.
His Man of the Match performances against Chelsea and Norwich were season highlights, but he played just 11 league games in total, and despite returning to fitness towards the end of the season, he has struggled with muscle injuries again this year.
Since his move, he's made just 21 appearances in all competitions.
However, according to Tom Hopkinson at the Mirror, Rodwell will not be allowed to leave during January, with Pellegrini believed to have given the 22-year-old assurances that he is part of his plans.
And with City slightly short of central-midfield options, if he could get himself fit he would be very likely to get games. Beyond the first-choice pairing of Yaya Toure and Fernandinho, the Blues are limited, with Javi Garcia the only other player regularly finding himself in the middle when one of those two need a rest.
There's no doubting the talent Rodwell possesses—he's demonstrated that both at Goodison Park and the Etihad—but a run of games is now needed to try and establish himself some kind of role on this strong City squad. If Pellegrini does reject loan offers for him this month, it will be just the kind of show of faith he needs.
It's not been easy for him so far, but with a run of good health, Rodwell may very well have an important role to play.
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @TypicalCity.