Josh Maja keeps his place in the Sunderland XI despite his contract deadline passing without resolution.
Stewart Donald said on Friday that the 20-year-old had told the club his agent had advised against signing a new deal.
It leaves his long-term future with the Black Cats in serious doubt, but Jack Ross has kept faith with his top goalscorer.
On Thursday he said Maja's commitment and performances made it much easier to keep him involved.
"It does help,” Ross said.
“It’s obvious to state but it does. It prevents there being any dissent or criticism towards him.
“I’ve had the conversation with him, that’s something that could happen if he doesn’t commit.
“It goes with the territory and there’s no point pretending that it isn’t the case.
“I never had any doubt that he would be different because of how he is and my relationship with him but he’s still got to go and do it.
“His performance at Blackpool was one of someone who is interested and wants to do well for Sunderland.
“I think his performances in the last three games have been as consistently good as he has been all season.
“I think it’s been his best run in terms of performance levels."
On Friday Donald urged supporters to 'get behind' Maja, hoping that he will eventually commit to the club.
Lee Cattermole's suspension means that Dylan McGeouch comes into the side in the only change from the team that 1-0 against Blackpool.
Duncan Watmore is on the bench.
Former Sunderland loanee Jonny Williams is on the bench for the hosts.
Sunderland XI: McLaughlin; O'Nien, Flanagan, Baldwin, James; McGeouch, Power; McGeady, Maja, Gooch, Wyke
Subs: Ruiter, Watmore, Maguire, Ozturk, Mumba, Sinclair