Jack Rodwell moved a step closer to making his Manchester City comeback by scoring a hat-trick for their Elite Development Squad on Monday night, increasing his chances of being involved in the club's league run-in and the FA Cup final.
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The England midfielder, who is yet to open his account for City's senior side, struck three times in a 4-0 thrashing of Oldham, with Denis Suarez getting the other goal.
Although he was an unused substitute in the 1-0 win over Wigan Athletic, Rodwell has not appeared in the Premier League since he went off in the 1-0 victory at Aston Villa on March 4.
Hamstring injuries have blighted his first season as a City player following a £12 million move from Everton and Rodwell has been limited to just four league starts.
But now he should be in contention to feature when the former champions go to Swansea on Saturday and could be involved in the following weekend's Wembley showpiece against Wigan.
Micah Richards also played the full game for City's EDS team. The right-back, who was out for almost six months with a knee injury, has only made one senior appearance since October, with manager Roberto Mancini declaring he was unhappy with Richards' performance against Wigan and believing he needed more games to regain his sharpness.