Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish has praised Stephen Warnock's response after dropping the defender for the weekend win at Wolves.
Warnock, part of England's World Cup squad in 2010, had been an ever present in the opening 21 Premier League games this season but found himself on the bench at Molineux.
The left-back was introduced at half-time and helped turn the game in Villa's favour by subduing first-half goalscorer Michael Kightly.
"Hats off to Stevie on Saturday, he was left out and was excellent," said McLeish.
"It's not easy getting left out and having to come on. If he had something to prove, he did that."
It has been a topsy-turvy 12 months for Warnock, with the player enjoying a new lease of life after finding himself frozen out under previous boss Gerard Houllier.
But McLeish felt Warnock's levels had dropped slightly of late and maintains he had to act.
"I'm paid to make difficult decisions," added McLeish. "Stevie in recent weeks has maybe dipped a bit. He'd played every game and been through a traumatic time last season.
"There are loads of reasons why a players' form can dip but Stephen is a great pro.
"[He] is one of the best trainers at the club. He trains every day as if that is a real game. I've always loved that from players. It's the way I trained.
"Stevie is a great example of that but it was just about gathering his thoughts, having a wee think about things and sometimes it doesn't do any harm.
"It happened to me in my career and I came back stronger than ever."