The attacker keeping Fernando Forestieri out of the Sheffield Wednesday side has won an eight-month battle to return to his top form, says manager Jos Luhukay.
The Owls boss was impressed by Marco Matias when he took the Hillsborough hot-seat early in the New Year.
But the Portuguese forward was hit by a knee problem and it has taken him until the last fortnight to nail down a regular Championship starting role under the Dutchman.
Fans’ favourite Forestieri has been dropped to the bench while Matias has earned his boss’s favour.
"This is the Marco I see in the beginning in January and February when I arrive," Luhukay said. "He played very good games for us but then suffered his injury and needed time to come back.
"In pre-season, I think, he is looking for his form but in the last weeks he has made a lot of progression.”
Matias was a starter and scorer in the 2-0 Carabao Cup win at League One Sunderland and was then called off the bench at late notice for the 2-0 league defeat at Brentford when Adam Reach hurt his knee during the warm-up.
He has since stayed in the side for successive league victories over Millwall, Ipswich Town and Reading that have lifted Wednesday to 11th in the table.
"I am now very satisfied," Luhukay added. "The player has speed as a runner and looks for spaces behind the defence and space between the centre-halves and the full-backs.
“He is working very hard when we lose the ball as well."