Sunderland boss Chris Coleman has suggested that wantaway defender Lamine Kone could feature in his team if he does not leave the Stadium of Light this month.
Kone, who has not featured since October after suffering injury, is recovering from the setback and played in the Under-23 match against Leicester City earlier this week.
The defender has aspirations of a Premier League return following the Black Cats' relegation, but Coleman has suggested that Kone's attitude in recovering from injury could set him up for a run in the team.
"That's how you behave and that's how you act," the Welshman told Sunderland's website. "Alright, we know Lamine probably sees his future somewhere else but what I've said all the way along is that I can understand that.
"As long as when players are with us they are respectful and they behave accordingly, and if they wear the jersey and want to do their best while they are here, then I haven't got a problem with that.
"Of course, we've seen that with Lamine and he's trained very hard, and like said you said it's nice to see a senior professional behaving in that manner because the younger players are always looking to see how it should be done – and having that type of respect is exactly how it's done."
Sunderland play fellow Championship strugglers Birmingham City on Tuesday, before hosting Ipswich Town next Saturday.