Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio has praised Connor Wickham for forcing his way into his first-team plans.
Wickham transformed their Capital One Cup second round clash with the MK Dons in midweek, coming off the bench to score twice in three minutes.
That helped Sunderland secure a place in the third round, and Di Canio hopes Wickham's change in attitude to training will signal a new phase in his career.
Wickham has only started eight Premier League games since an £8.1m move from Ipswich in June 2011, but Di Canio hinted he could well be making more appearances very soon, possibly against Crystal Palace on Saturday.
"When my player in the last 10 days changed his attitude and made me happy in the way he approached the training sessions, it was not an accident," Di Canio said.
"In his performance at Southampton, he didn't do anything special, but for me it was special because he worked so hard and kept four or five balls that gave us a chance to break.
"And then the last time, you saw what happened. He was crucial - but that's because of what he had done in the training sessions the previous week.
"This is why now at the moment he has reduced to a minimum the gap between him and some players who until today have played regular football because of more pedigree, more experience or different characteristics.
"Now he will have his chance, probably."