Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold has declared Bernie Ibini ready to start against Melbourne City following his sparkling second-half cameo at Newcastle Jets.
In just his second A-League appearance since a training-ground injury snuffed out his European dream before it had even started, Ibini made a compelling case for his first competitive start in 18 months.
Introduced on the hour mark of Sunday's 2-0 victory, the 24-year-old injected much-needed attacking spark and scored a nifty solo goal that shut down the Jets' hopes of a revival.
The effort -- a quickfire evasion of two defenders followed by two shots at goal -- hinted at what his power and pace could bring should the Sky Blues struggle to penetrate City at ANZ Stadium on Friday night, as they did in last week's FFA Cup final.
It leaves Arnold with an intriguing selection headache for the top-of-table-clash after the coach refused to guarantee his marquees, fellow winger Filip Holosko and striker Bobo, will return to the first XI.
Asked when Ibini would be ready to return to start, Arnold said: "Friday".
"He's got to be in contention after that [performance]," Arnold said.
"I'll decide on Thursday after I see how he's pulled up.
"Whether he starts or comes off the bench, what he did on Sunday is going to put fear into every defender, especially if he comes on in the last half hour with that pace and quality he's got."
"And he's nowhere near fit ... by January he'll be flying.
"He seems much stronger and quicker than when he left."
The Nigerian-born flyer was a sensation for Sydney two seasons ago with seven goals and three assists as his speed tore oppositions to shreds.
If a broken broken fibula and torn ligaments on arrival at Belgian outfit Club Brugge threatened to end his career, the Nigerian-born flyer's decision to return to Sydney on loan might have saved it.
The club's medical team made headway on a severe syndesmosis injury that, on arrival in July, practically stopped him walking down a set of stairs.
"Brugge were probably honest within themselves and knew they couldn't fix it -- the medical side of what they did over there wasn't working," said Arnold, who will fight to keep Ibini after his loan stint expires at the end of the season.
"We've rehabilitated him and he's getting back to his best now.
"If the kid wants to go back, good.
"If he doesn't, they should let him go because they were getting nothing out of him anyway."