Pre-season is a time for players who have spent the season on loan or sitting in the reserves with a chance to finally get some first team action under their belts.
Here are five who have reminded their employers and supporters of their qualities...
Striker Stephen Dobbie scored a hat-trick for Swansea at the weekend, against Welsh Premier Division side Port Talbot in a 5-0 win. Scotsman Dobbie signed for the Swans in 2009 after excellent performances for Queen of the South north of the border, but has had an up and down time since moving to the Liberty stadium. After a good start he got injured and ended up being loaned to Blackpool, but he returned to play a key part in Swansea's promotion season, scoring in their play-off final win. He was loaned to Blackpool again last season after being told he wouldn't be required, ending up on the losing side of a play-off final. Back at Swansea he has gone the right way impressing new boss Michael Laudrup, and will look to kick on.
Belgian starlet Romelu Lukaku was the definition of a forgotten man last season. Bought from Anderlecht in a deal which could rise to £18 million, he barely got a look in last season, and fell out behind the scenes with manager Andre Villas-Boas. His brace against the Seattle Sounders in pre-season may just have given Roberto di Matteo was a timely reminder of his qualities, and it has been reported today he has secured a loan move to Fulham. He will use his time at the Cottagers to rebuild and show the Premier League just why he is touted as one of Europe's potential best.
Oh yes. The ultimate forgotten man, Manchester United outcast Bebe dramatically re-announced his return to the Red Devils fold by scoring a late equaliser for the club in South Africa against Ajax Cape Town. After an underwhelming first year at United he was loaned to Turkish side Besiktas where he promptly suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury. He is still only 22 and needs to play games, and it is most likely he will be loaned out again next year, but if he continues to get chances, and take them, in pre-season then he may just be retained as a squad player and for League Cup matches.
Arsenal's Henri Lansbury had a bit of a nightmare on loan at West Ham last season, so offered a timely reminder of his quality when he scored the winner in Arsenal's first pre-season game against Anderlecht. Lansbury is a fine prospect who can potentially be a star at Arsenal, but needs a season of progression after his injury-hit offering last time out. He was excellent for Norwich while on loan in their promotion season two years back and the Canaries may yet be keen on taking him back. With Rosicky and Wilshere injured and Ramsey at the OIympics, Wenger may choose to keep him for the start of the season - just in case.
Ever since joining Southampton Jason Puncheon's career has been far from plain sailing. With the Saints in the Premier League, the second stage of an unlikely yet convenient reunion is underway. At the weekend Puncheon scored the winner for the club against French side Evian. A fallout with the club's management saw him loaned to both Millwall and Blackpool, before joining QPR on deadline day last year. He barely played, and rejoined the Saints in January where he made eight appearances. Now firmly a part of the club's plans for next year and differences seemingly set aside, club and player are finally moving towards a common goal and the early signs are looking good.
Which of the five has the best chance of making it next season?
image: © Andrea Sartorati