John Fleck is back to his best, Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has claimed, having experienced a downturn in form at the beginning of the month.
The midfielder is expected to start Saturday's meeting with Blackburn Rovers after impressing during Boxing Day's win over Derby County.
Given his importance to the way United like to play, Wilder admitted Fleck's display contribution to the victory had prompted a sigh of relief among the club's coaching staff.
"I thought Flecky was exceptional," he said. "He's been a bit quiet lately and that can happen to any player. But (last time out), he was passing well, flying in for tackles and really putting himself about like we know he does. That was the John Fleck everyone here knows. So full credit to him for working through it and still putting a shift in."
Although Wilder has previously insisted the two are not linked - "His attitude has always been the same" - Fleck's influence began to decline after receiving his first senior Scotland call-up earlier this month. Had Wilder suspected the 27-year-old was resting on his laurels then Paul Coutts, who recently recovered from serious injury, would have been immediately parachuted into United's matchday eleven.
With United climbing to fourth in the Championship after beating Frank Lampard's side, the visit of mid-table Rovers represents an opportunity to consolidate their grip on a top six place ahead of next week's trip to Wigan Athletic.
But Wilder said: "We'll approach this match in exactly the same we we did the last one. It's no different."