At the weekend, Bolton Wanderers supporters finally got something they've been clamouring for for an unnecessarily long amount of time. No, not a win, but a return at long last to the first team for Josh Vela.
He played the whole 90 minutes in the Whites' 1-1 draw with Leeds United, playing at the base of a midfield diamond and, for a brief amount of time, at right back due to the reshuffling of defence after Prince's incorrect dismissal.
He was fantastic in the defensive midfield role, his presence alone made our midfield look a lot more balanced and assured in possession. He was never afraid to go to the likes of Jose Casado, Darren Pratley or Neil Danns and offer himself for a one-two, leading to several give and go's that moved us up the pitch, in the first half especially.
On the defensive side of things he was also very solid. Playing in a vital role in keeping out opponents' attacks, practically on his own, means he had to read the game well and constantly be aware of the danger around him. I thought, for a player who has rarely, if at all, played that role he did very well indeed.
According to Squawka, he made five interceptions against Leeds, all of which occurring just out side our 18-yard box. That along with his general pressing and challenging just shows how effective Vela was at keeping out Leeds as they attempted to penetrate our defence.
Whilst, I don't particularly want Vela to be shackled as a defensive midfielder forever, as it wastes just as much of his good qualities as him playing right back did, but if that's what it takes to get him in the team right now - then I'll take it.
So after returning to the team in only, I believe, his second start of the season (with the only other coming against Middlesbrough, where he played right wing back) it was extremely pleasing to see him seamlessly slot straight back into the side and improve everyone around him.
However, it just now begs the question of why the fuck hasn't he been playing up to this point, as he's exactly what we've been missing.
Neil Lennon was asked this question some weeks ago now and I thought his answer was either a cover or straight up BS, because how could Vela be "playing within himself" if he wasn't playing at all? Whatever Lennon's reasons were, I think it's clear now that Josh Vela absolutely has to start every game from now on.
Whether he's playing the holding role or in a more advanced position, we need him to be on the pitch as without him we don't look no where near as comfortable on the ball, or as dynamic and sturdy.
To put it simply, if things are ever going to improve this season - Vela needs to be on the pitch.