Sheffield Wednesday boss Carlos Carvalhal believes match fitness is the key to Aiden McGeady's career revival.
Carvalhal, who tried to sign McGeady when previously manager of Sporting Lisbon, took the winger to Hillsborough on loan in the second half of the 2015/16 season.
The Irishman struggled, scoring one goal but only completing a handful of games.
The 31-year-old subsquently admitted that he 'lost his love of the game' during that time, before a spectacular season at Preston under Simon Grayson.
Carvalhal told BBC Radio Sheffield: "At Preston, McGeady had the chance to play often, often, often. I believe, because I spoke with the coach, that in the first one, two, three four games [he] was not so good.
"After more games he plays well. But [for us], when you are playing to a high level, trying to get promoted and so on, it is often not compatible.
"Some [new signings] have difficulties, and when they play often we know that we chose good players. McGeady’s a good example. When we brought McGeady, we knew that we were bringing a good player, even if in that moment people criticised.
"The problem with McGeady and [Callum] McManaman was the same - they didn’t play before too much. They came here with their competition levels not very high. They need time to play, they need to play often, they need to play 90 minutes. But at the same time we need to win games and the players were not fit, not ready to play 90 minutes."
Sunderland boss Simon Grayson said after the winger's sparkling display at Carrow Road that his love of the game had returned.
"He is a player that has immense ability. He fell out of love with the game before I took him to Preston last year – I let him express himself," he said.
“His ability is as good as anyone I have worked with and he has fallen back in love with the game.
“He was my first port of call when I took over. I wanted to sign him. It took a few weeks to get done, but £250,000 is not a bad deal!”