• Striker believes recovery from injury will see him back to best
• Goal against Wigan is his fourth in league this season
If this was Gabriel Agbonlahor playing with an injury, it is tempting to wonder what the Aston Villa striker will be capable of producing when he finds a remedy for the back problem that has ruled him out of contention for England's Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro on Friday.
"I got a text [from England] saying that I would be in contention but I want to get myself right. I've had a back problem and I've got to go and see a back specialist in London on Tuesday," said Agbonlahor. "Hopefully I'll get it fixed during the international break because it's been stopping me in games; I've been suffering with pains in my lower back. If I can get it sorted, I could be on fire."
Although it is unclear whether Agbonlahor would have survived the cull from Fabio Capello's provisional squad, it is easy to see why the centre-forward has, at the very least, returned to the thoughts of the England manager two years after he won his last cap.
A scintillating performance against Wigan Athletic, that included a fourth Premier League goal this season and a sublime assist for Darren Bent, provided further evidence that the player who sleepwalked his way through last season is getting back to his best.
The explosive pace and power that has long been a feature of Agbonlahor's game was on show against Wigan but there were also moments of finesse to admire as the 24-year-old tormented the visitors' defence before departing to a standing ovation and effusive praise from his manager and team-mates.
"I've got a gem on my hands if I can keep improving this guy," Alex McLeish, the Villa manager, said. Bent added: "I don't think there are too many strikers playing better than him. He looks strong, fast and dangerous. The goals he has been scoring this season have been fantastic."
Agbonlahor, who has already beaten last season's tally of three Premier League goals, believes there is much more to come from him if he can play without pain. "I'm not getting ahead of myself," he said. "The [England] manager, Fabio, knows what I can do. It looks like I'll miss this meet-up but there's many more to come before the Euros so I'll keep working hard for Villa and hopefully get another chance."
Wigan were unable to contain Agbonlahor on an afternoon when his link-up play with Bent suggested that Gérard Houllier, McLeish's predecessor, may have been wrong to believe the pair could never become a partnership.
"There were people who said me and Gabby couldn't play together because we are too similar. But we complement each other well," Bent said. "When you have someone with that kind of pace upfront it makes the job easier because he is always going to get past people."
Gary Caldwell and Emmerson Boyce would vouch for that after Agbonlahor cut inside the former to put Villa ahead and ran beyond the latter before delivering a splendid centre that Bent tapped home to put the game beyond Wigan.
Roberto Martínez's side have now lost their last four league games and although Franco Di Santo should have been awarded a penalty when he was knocked to the ground by Alan Hutton in the second half, Wigan could have few complaints with the final outcome. Martínez said: "We had enough chances and with a little bit more composure could have got the goal we needed."