Manchester United Under 21 coach Warren Joyce claims Nick Powell is "too good for Reserves football" and needs a chance with the first team. The attacking midfielder has been out of action since suffering an injury in February but Joyce claims the player "is looking in the best condition he has ever been in his life."
"We're hoping he will be able to push himself forward - either in the first team or out in the league again," Joyce said to the club's website. "He's had that already and is really too good for Reserves football. He has proved he can play in the Championship but, if he's got ambition, which I'm sure he has, then he'd want to prove to himself he can play in the Premier League.
"That has got to be his aim. He's gone step-by-step to get to this stage now and that had to be the carrot dangled in front of him, the prospect of top-flight football in the future, so I am sure all those hours in the gym will be worthwhile."
Some claimed Powell's attitude was to blame for him failing to get into the first team. But Joyce says the player, who could return to action in the game against Norwich City on 23 November, is a hard worker.
"Nick's worked extremely hard. It's been a testing time, as you expect when you're injured and obviously out for this amount of time with an injury. But his attitude has been outstanding in the gym and out on the training field," he said.
"I think, to be fair, he is looking in the best condition he has ever been in his life. Hopefully, he kicks on with that now when the games start coming. There is no doubt how much talent he has got. Some of the stuff you see from him is outstanding. He's a high top-level talent so hopefully he can get a run of matches."
Powell was signed from Crewe Alexandra by Sir Alex Ferguson in 2012 for around £4m as a promising prospect and he made an impressive first-team debut that year after scoring a goal in a 4-0 game against Wigan. The 21-year-old star continued his progress in the 2013-14 campaign with a prolific spell in the Championship with the Latics, scoring 12 goals.
United manager Louis van Gaal rewarded him with a chance in the 4-0 defeat to MK Dons in the Capital One Cup before sending him on loan to Leicester City in order to get some Premier League experience. But Powell failed to make the impact expected and was sent back to Old Trafford. His luck at United did not improve following the serious hamstring problem he picked up during an Under 21 game against Everton, which has left him out until now.