Rising Manchester City star Kelechi Iheanacho is determined to repay Manuel Pellegrini for giving him his chance this season.
Iheanacho has made a big impression since being promoted to the first-team squad by Pellegrini, scoring nine goals from just seven starts, including an eye-catching hat-trick in last month’s FA Cup fourth-round win at Aston Villa.
The 19-year-old is used only sparingly, with 16 other appearances from the bench, but Pellegrini has repeatedly stated his faith and pointed out that Iheanacho’s potential is the chief reason no strikers were signed last summer.
Iheanacho said: “I am very happy to hear that from the boss and to not sign another striker. He believes in me, trusts in me, so I need to give him the best and give the team the best.”
Many of Iheanacho’s opportunities have arisen because of injuries to Sergio Aguero and Wilfried Bony at different stages of the season.
Bony has missed the most action – although he is in contention to return in Sunday’s Capital One Cup final against Liverpool – and Iheanacho has relished the chance to cut his teeth alongside the prolific Aguero.
“I am learning a lot from him,” said Iheanacho. “He is a good player, so watching him every day and playing alongside him is a great privilege.
“I am happy playing alongside him and think I am learning a lot and improving. It is a very good experience and I fit in that role playing alongside him.”
Iheanacho is now hoping to be involved at Wembley this weekend, although he is happy to bide his time as he continues to learn his craft.
He said: “I am very happy to be in the Capital One Cup final. I am looking forward to it.
“If I start it is fine, but if I am a substitute I will just wait to get a go.
“I am happy to be scoring a few goals this season. It has not been easy but I think the hard work has worked so I will continue working hard every day in training and games.”