Watford boss Javi Gracia admits that Didier Ndong's exile from the first team is 'not an easy situation'.
After signing on loan for the Hornets late in January, the Gabon midfielder is yet to play a minute for his new club.
The deal included various clauses, including a provision to make the deal permanent should the 23-year-old meet certain appearance criteria.
With just six games left in Watford's season and Ndong firmly out of favour with Gracia, that looks unlikely in the extreme.
Ndong was an unused substitute in Watford's 2-2 draw with Bournemouth last time out and his manager has not ruled out giving the central midfielder an opportunity to impress.
Gracia told the Watford Observer: "I know it is not an easy situation for him. I have to take decisions and to find the best solutions for the team.
“I think in this moment we have very important players in his position in central midfield. We have [Abdoulaye] Doucoure and [Etienne] Capoue.
“They play in all the games. In this moment Ndong is not playing, but I do not know if in the next games he can help us.”
Ndong's selection struggles have been further impeded by the return to fitness of talented midfield duo Will Hughes and Roberto Pereyra, both of whom have impressed in recent weeks.
After loaning Ndong close to the end of the winter window, Chris Coleman insisted he had no desire to work with players who wanted to be elsewhere and said that the deal had allowed Sunderland to do some business of their own.
Ndong had been in and out of the side before his departure and in his final appearance, was given a red card in the 4-0 defeat to Cardiff City.
He was replaced by Liverpool loanee Ovie Ejaria.
Coleman said: "Ndong is going to Watford, he’s made it clear that he wanted to be back in the Premier League. The deal suited us this time, there’s stipulations in the contract that could make it permanent, but he could come back.
"We shouldn’t worry too much about losing Ndong because we haven’t really had him all season if you look at his game time. Ovie [Ejaria] is a good player and he’ll be a good addition."
Ndong looks certain to return in the summer and is one of a number of players whose future will be uncertain.
Wahbi Khazri and Papy Djilobodji will return from loans at Rennes and Dijon respectively.
Both have enjoyed promising seasons and could see their value boosted by appearances at the World Cup this summer.
Khazri in particular is commanding significant interest with Rennes eager to sign him permanently.
They expect to be financially outmuscled by other sides in Ligue 1, however, with numerous French media sources expecting Marseille to enter the race.
Khazri himself recently said that he hopes a strong performance against England in the World Cup group stages could spark interest from Premier League sides.