Prior to his £12 million move to Aston Villa in August 2016, Ross McCormack was arguably the most sought-after striker outside of the English top flight.

The Scotland international had registered 116 Championship goals across his eight seasons in the second division, with 21 of those coming in his final season at Fulham before his switch to Villa Park.

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Now, a little over a year later with just three goals in 20 appearances for the Midlands club and a failed loan spell at Nottingham Forest to boot, the 31-year-old has been shipped to A-League outfit Melbourne City in what looks to be a final opportunity to save his crumbling reputation.

And he has, at least, made a positive start.

McCormack came close to opening the scoring during the first half of City’s 2-0 victory over Brisbane Roar on the opening day, with a strike which narrowly missed the target. He was also heavily involved in City’s second goal, scored by Bruce Kamau, poking the ball left to winger Nick Fitzgerald before the resulting cross was delivered.

There were flashes of frustration, however, while City were defending opposing attacks, and McCormack did pick up a booking on 56 minutes for time wasting before being replaced by Poland Under-21 international Marcin Budzinski in the latter stages of the half.

But, in all, there was plenty to suggest McCormack will be a success at his new club.

“It was good,” McCormack told the official Melbourne City website after the game. “That was my first start since March and I think it was 80 minutes under my belt. It was a bit rusty but it can only get better. Fitness-wise was fine, it was just more sharpness that I’m going to be working on in the coming weeks to get back to where I feel I need to be.

“It’s just all about training every day, and to be fair, the manager demands it and the boys are doing it. I think if you work hard and concentrate on playing well, hopefully the chances will start to be created and I back myself if I get chances to score goals.”

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McCormack comes into the team as a replacement for marquee striker Bruno Fornaroli, the club’s top scorer with 42 goals in 56 league outings over the past two seasons, who will miss the rest of the year because of a fractured ankle.

While the City Football Group-owned club were expected to dip into the pool of players at parent club Manchester City to find a replacement, it was McCormack’s relationship with youth team assistant Patrick Kisnorbo and midfielder Neil Kilkenny from his time at Leeds which convinced manager Warren Joyce to gamble on him as the injury replacement for Fornaroli.

Like the Uruguayan, McCormack is capable of the extraordinary, though he is far more direct in his approach. It has not been uncommon for the former Cardiff, Leeds and Fulham star to register goals from distance, though it is in behind opposing defenders where he excels.

There are few more potent than McCormack from close range, with his irregular movement patterns making him an incredibly difficult forward to pick up. His ability to open his body up and create chances for himself and those playing around him has been fundamental to his success in the English second tier.

McCormack is not as gifted as technically gifted as Fornaroli, but what he lacks in natural ability he makes in reading situations and energy on the break, something which City fans got a glimpse of in their opening fixture.

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McCormack’s off-field problems have been well-documented over the last 12-months, though, with his relationship with Villa boss Steve Bruce breaking down indefinitely. He’s now making the right noises, saying the correct things to the media, and has promised City chiefs he is ready to work his way out of the toughest spell of his career thus far.

“I think most players have a dip in their careers, hopefully that was mine. I’m not a silly little boy now, I know there’s a bit to prove.”

This is McCormack’s chance; his chance to prove he still has the hunger to work towards the highest level and to rekindle his stagnating career.

The loan will only benefit those involved, with City profiting from what promises to be a sizeable goal return from the Scottish striker – an account which the club will hope he can open in the Melbourne derby on Saturday as City travel to Melbourne Victory.

Odds on A-League suggest Saturday’s hosts will claim the points against City, though they opened their season with a 1-0 home defeat against Sydney on Saturday.

McCormack has been handed an opportunity to prove he’s up to the task, starting with the derby, and it’s now up to him to take it.

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