Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has hailed Andy Reid's attempts to get into the first team and admits he faces a selection headache for the forthcoming Premier League fixtures.
The Black Cats travel to the Britannia Stadium on Saturday afternoon to take on Tony Pulis' dogged Stoke City for one of their most difficult trips of the season.
But the Wearside club make the journey to the Potteries on the back of a comprehensive 4-1 Carling Cup victory against Norwich where Reid stole the show.
The 28-year-old midfielder, on his first competitive start of the campaign, netted a brace in a Man of the Match performance and it is not just Monday evening which has prompted Bruce to take notice of the Republic of Ireland international.
The Sunderland boss told the Daily Express: "Since I have been here he has done his best to impress. He has lost a lot of body fat and he is visibly a different player.
"He has done his best to get himself in the team and has asked a big question of me. Do I include him in the team? He has taken it on himself and he knows to play at this level you have to be physically fit.
"Fair play to Andy because he has done everything he can physically. His ability has never been questioned. He has lost 9kg and that is a remarkable turnaround."
If Reid is to retain his place in the Sunderland starting XI he will have to dislodge Kieran Richardson, and Bruce admits he now has a tough decision to make.
He added: "He will be doing his best to regain his place, but I also have Kieran Richardson who has had a good start this season."