Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has admitted that he was impressed but not surprised by Kelechi Iheanacho's performance in his side's 4-0 FA Cup rout of Aston Villa on Saturday.
The Nigerian striker netted a hat-trick as part of a man-of-a-match performance in the Midlands, but speaking afterwards, Pellegrini said that Iheanacho's performances in training have hinted at his potential.
"I see him working every day, so I know what he can do during the game," Pellegrini told reporters. "Maybe I received some criticism for why we didn't replace Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic at the beginning of the season, and I answered that we have Kelechi.
"It's very important for him to have the chance to demonstrate why he is in this squad, so I think that was a very useful game for him.
"To score a hat-trick is not easy but I'm impressed because I see him in the way he works every day and how he's improving in every session working with these important players."
Iheanacho has featured 14 times for City - 12 of them as a substitute - in the league this season, scoring twice and registering one assist.