Fabian Delph has been an unexpected surprise at left back for Manchester City–and it could save the club come transfer time in January.
Worry set in when news broke that the lovable Benjamin Mendy was flying out to Barcelona to discuss the prospect of knee surgery for the injury he sustained against Crystal Palace.
That worry quickly turned into full-scale panic when he had said surgery and the estimated recovery time of sixth months was confirmed, but Pep Guardiola - maligned for not signing a backup left-back in the summer - was the coolest man around the place, as he so often is.
For Manchester City had a top quality replacement on hand all along in Fabian Delph, who has stepped up to the mark and them some in the Frenchman's absence. He might not have even known it himself at that point, but omniscient Pep could envisage it.
Guardiola thrust the Englishman into action from the start against Shakhtar Donetsk on matchday two of the Champions League back in September and the former Aston Villa youngster was the best player on the pitch, despite the headlines being grabbed by Kevin De Bruyne that night for his wonderstrike.
The 27-year-old has had to be patient for his chance in this City team, and he just looks so comfortable in an alien position. It is as though he knows what an embarrassment of riches there are in the midfield areas, so he is playing out of his skin to stake his claim to be a regular starter.
The Yorkshireman has been impressively dependable so far in behind Leroy Sane and alongside Nicolas Otamendi, and brings all of his existing midfield qualities to the position, and it really has been working out in Mendy's absence.
Whilst the former Monaco man had been bringing pace and drive to the position, Delph has brought steadiness, good short passing and excellent positioning, and a position that should have been severely weakened by Mendy's injury has now unearthed a hidden gem - a gem that may, or even should, see Guardiola keep his hand in his pocket when the January transfer window opens.
Napoli star Faouzi Ghoulam had been mentioned as the replacement for Mendy but the Algerian, out of contract at the end of the season, is out of action for a while after sustaining an ACL injury against City in the Champions League.
As things stand, Mendy is actually looking like he'll be back a lot sooner than anticipated such has been the grueling rehabilitation program set for him by club physios and his own personal endeavor, and these two circumstances seem like fate that Delph gets a chance to keep his place in the team as a left-back.
Money is no object for the Citizens as everybody knows, but not spending on a left-back in January is a show of respect to a seriously good player who has answered every question asked of him so far. Antonio Valencia became a successful full-back at Manchester United, so why not Delph at the Etihad? This could be the making of him at a big club.
In a team full of superstars that have been impressive both going forward and defensively, Delph has looked like he belongs. His intelligence to learn how to be effective in an alien position has to be admired, and along with Fernandinho, he's one of the unsung heroes of a truly fantastic team.