JAMES McFadden’s Sunderland future is set to be resolved in the next few days as manager Martin O’Neill considers whether or not to extend the former Everton player’s three-month contract, writes Graeme Anderson.
The 29-year-old signed a short-term deal in October, which is set to expire towards the end of this month.
But before that Sunderland will look to resolve whether or not to offer him an extended deal or deem the Scotland international surplus to requirements.
Two big influences on that decision will be whether Sunderland can attract potentially better players in his position this month and whether the player himself can show he can make a contribution.
McFadden has had very little first-team involvement since joining on a Bosman deal and beginning to work his way back to full fitness.
The offer of only a short-term deal was for him to prove his fitness after a couple of injury-prone years, as much as anything else.
But despite being available in recent weeks, he has played only the last five minutes of last month’s defeat at Manchester United and the last half-hour of Wednesday’s defeat at Liverpool.
O’Neill told the Echo: “I haven’t spoken to James yet about his future.
“I think he has been unlucky in terms of his appearances, but I think he knew that to begin with – that really his favourite positions in the team are areas where I feel we are pretty strongly catered for.
“The areas where he would most make impact are areas where I feel we are fairly decent,
“How has he been around the place?
“The lads tell me he has been excellent.
“He will probably be a bit frustrated because he probably feels he is fit now and he’s probably just looking for that opportunity.”
That opportunity could come tomorrow against Bolton Wanderers in the FA Cup third round, when he could be handed his first start.
But if he is, he will have to impress as O’Neill looks around at ways and means of strengthening his squad.
The Sunderland manager said: “We probably won’t see what he can really do until he starts a game.
“At this moment, the players who have been keeping him out have been our really creative players who, though they might have been struggling for form, are key to us and it has been difficult.
“So we will see where it goes.
“James and I agreed that if it didn’t happen for him here then, it was unlikely he would to hang around.
“But I think that the way things have panned out, he has enjoyed the place and the players.”