Jack Rodwell hopes he has put his injury-plagued start to life at Manchester City behind him and is ready to play a more major role for Roberto Mancini's side.
The England midfielder cost City £12million when he signed from Everton last summer but he has made only nine appearances, two of them starts. Hamstring problems have been the main source of Rodwell's frustration and he was out for more than three months between October and January.
Since returning to fitness he has made three substitute appearances, including playing the final half-hour of the FA Cup fifth-round victory over Leeds on Sunday. The 21-year-old said: "I have been working really hard, keeping up my work and feeling as fit as ever."
He added: "There is great competition, and I knew that when I joined, so I have to be patient, keep working, and see what happens. The manager knows how versatile I can be - I can play along the back as well, so I hope that is to my benefit in getting a few more games.
"My main aim now is to stay fit. That has been my main problem for the last year or so, an inability to stay fit and shrug off little injuries. That has held me back and I think, if I can stay fit, the games will come."
Rodwell has left no stone unturned in attempting to solve his hamstring issues, including changing his car, and he is putting in an extra hour and a half's work every day to try to ensure they are a thing of the past.
He said: "You have to rule out everything and then nothing can be a problem. I think it has worked, but it is more to do with the gym work I have been doing with City. The physios have highlighted that and done a really good job. I have stuck to a six or seven-week programme where I have not had a day off.
"I have hammered the work, done a lot of hamstring work and luckily, touch wood, it has worked. I intend to keep that up for the rest of my career. Hopefully I will stay fit and strong."
Rodwell, twice capped by England, has played most of his football in midfield but believes his future could lie in central defence and has his eye on a similar career progression to City captain Vincent Kompany.
"Any player at City is prepared to play anywhere, and I'm no different," said Rodwell. "Midfield, defence, I have even played out wide for Everton, so I will do a job anywhere and give 100 percent. Vinny is a good player, and I look up to him, watch his game and would definitely take the same path as him. He started out in midfield and is now one of the best centre-halves in the world."