Exeter City boss Paul Tisdale says goalkeeper Christy Pym's good form in training forced him to pick him.
The 21-year-old former England Under-20 international had not played a League Two game for City since Bobby Olejnik signed for the club in June 2015.
Exeter-born Pym was selected for Saturday's 0-0 draw with Grimsby - his side's first home point of the season.
"He has trained as well if not better than I have ever seen before and he just forced the issue," Tisdale said.
"I fancied a bit of a change in the team and I wasn't quite sure where it would be, but he forced his way.
"It is a good sign for anybody in the squad because it shows that you can force your way into the side through application and performance in training."
Pym has started 38 games for City since making his debut as a teenager in February 2014, and impressed England youth selectors with a fine performance at Burton in August that year which saw him and Matt Grimes called up for the under-20s.
But he found his chances limited at the end of 2014 as fellow stopper James Hamon was preferred by Tisdale before former Peterborough and Torquay goalkeeper Olejnik signed.
The match against Grimsby was just the the second time Olejnik had not played in the league since moving to St James Park.
"He is absolutely gutted that he was not selected," Tisdale said of the former Austria Under-21 goalkeeper.
"He wants to play football, he has done nothing wrong, he has made no obvious mistakes or let anybody down.
"I just decided to select Christy. Bobby has taken it really professionally."