Michael Kightly's impact at Wolves was so impressive that ManchesterUnited sent scouts to watch him just six weeks after he was hauled outof non-league football three seasons ago.
And the upbeat message that Mick McCarthy revealed before the derby against Birmingham City was that the England Under 21international is showing flashes of the form that elevated him to suchheights.
A series of injuries has curtailed Kightly's involvement this yearbut, after impressing recently during practice matches, McCarthy isconvinced the Kightly of old has returned.
The winger's £125,000 move from Grays was possibly the shrewdestpiece of business that McCarthy has done during his three-year stay atMolineux.
In his absence, last season's leading scorer in the ChampionshipSylvan Ebanks-Blake has failed to fire and Kevin Doyle has alsosuffered.
'I want Michael back in this team for the fans and the club because he's a threat,' said McCarthy. 'He's been having some treatment and he's getting his power, strength and sharpness back. We have the chance to set the place alight in this division and he's not been with us. And that's been sad.
'We have missed him. Everyone thought he could play in the Premier League but he's not had that opportunity. When he has had it, he's not been fully fit. He's our blue riband player. Since walking through the door here, he has set the place on fire.
'He has a humility about him which I like. Even when he played and I left him out he admitted he couldn't come knocking on my door, asking why he wasn't playing. 'But he's played for the reserves and showed a real willingness and determination to get back into our side. Fingers crossed.' McCarthy's admission that Wolves were 'mullered' last week at Chelsea was typically forthright. Until their four-goal defeats by Arsenal and Chelsea, his side has been competitive.
But if they are to win what the Yorkshireman has already admitted is a 'relegation dog-fight' then they need to start producing.
He added: 'It's easy to be doom and gloom after being slapped by Arsenal and Chelsea. I didn't like the fans chanting my name when we were 4-0 down. They did it because they appreciate and understand we are not expected to win.
'We have just been beaten by two of the premier teams in the division. They have exposed us for what we are: a hard-working, grafting honest team. We are not going to compete against them. There was every chance it was going to happen.
'Let's remember how we played against Everton away and Villa at home and Stoke away in the second half. We need to pick up points, winning games, and we haven't managed to do it.
'It is not something I enjoy to hear, "we have played well". I'd rather have the points than the compliments. Ultimately pats on the back for playing well tend to have knives in their hands.'
After a four-game unbeaten run, Birmingham boss Alex McLeish has challenged his players to change their mentality.
He celebrates his second anniversary in the job this weekend with a £20 million transfer kitty burning a hole in his pocket.
'The players have been playing well, but for the last few years we have yo-yoed between the divisions and I need the players not to have the mentality of playing well for two or three games and then taking a rest,' he said.
'We need to maintain the performance level at Wolves that we have shown in recent games. We are bullish about going to Wolves, but we were bullish about going to Manchester United and Tottenham. Maybe there is less pressure in those games.
'This is a big pressure game and it will be interesting to see how the players handle that because Mick will be smarting a little bit and he knows it is a big game for them. 'I am expecting them to come out of the blocks and we have to be ready for that challenge.'
Explore more:People:Kevin Doyle, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Mick McCarthy, Alex McLeishPlaces:Birmingham