Nick Powell could be set for a surprise Manchester United comeback after Under-21 coach Warren Joyce revealed the midfielder was in the best condition of his life.
The 21-year-old has not featured for Louis van Gaal's senior team since the 4-0 drubbing that was handed to them by MK Dons 15 months ago.
Nine of those months were spent recovering from a serious hamstring injury and, as a result, has fallen far from Van Gaal's sights.
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His failure to develop into a first-team star will disappoint Sir Alex Ferguson more than most. The former Red Devils boss forked out £4million to sign him from Crewe Alexandra in 2012 and threw him straight into senior responsibilities.
But after struggling with injuries, the 21-year-old was reportedly disillusioned with his football career and was set to leave when his contract expired at the end of the season.
Joyce, however, has been mightily impressed with the way Powell has come back to prominence and thinks he may get one final chance to impress the Dutchman.
The coach gave an extensive interview with regards to Powell on Manchester United's official website, which you can read below.
"Nick's worked extremely hard," Joyce said. It's been a testing time, as you expect when you're injured and obviously out for this amount of time with an injury. But his attitude has been outstanding in the gym and out on the training field.
"I think, to be fair, he is looking in the best condition he has ever been in his life. Hopefully, he kicks on with that now when the games start coming. There is no doubt how much talent he has got. Some of the stuff you see from him is outstanding. He's a high top-level talent so hopefully he can get a run of matches.
"When he came back here from his loan spells away, I thought he was flying before he got injured. People forget how young he is. He is still a young player with a very bright career in front of him. Like everything, he needs a little bit of luck and has got to be in the right place at the right time to grab an opportunity and make the most of it.
"He's certainly put in the hours in the gym and on the training pitch and, like I've said, is probably in the best condition physically he has ever been in his life. There are a lot of good people in the medical department and the sports science lads are really conscientious and very good at their jobs.
"It's not easy to be out for such a long while but he has got to keep going like he has been doing. You have ups and downs but that's normal. Everybody wants to play but the staff are so good at their jobs they keep the players going, keep them motivated, keep them at it and keep them running. So far, so good and I hope he gets over the final hurdle now."
Powell is back in full training with the Manchester United team and is expected to take part in the upcoming match against Norwich on November 23. If things go well, a loan move to a Championship club seems most likely.
With newcomers Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger to compete with in centre midfield, a return to action for the first team looks all but impossible for the young Englishman.
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