John O’Shea will not consider his future until Sunderland’s Championship status has been resolved.
The 36-year-old signed a one year extension following the club’s relegation from the Premier League and having studied for his UEFA Pro Licence, is expected to move into coaching when he retires.
However, he is focusing on his immediate playing future after featuring in four games over nine days during the festive period and establishing himself as a crucial part of Chris Coleman’s short-term plans.
O’Shea said: “We have to make sure Sunderland is in the Championship and then I will worry about everything after that.
“I have stood up to it [the schedule], the lads here, sports science and medical department, I have been fortunate to have the injuries I have had have been fairly minor in my career.
“I have always eaten well and trained well, something I have been brought up with, to look after myself.
“It’s part and parcel of being ready and if you can cope then great, if I couldn’t cope I would have told them.
“It’s part and parcel, you train for it and you have to be ready regardless of your age or who is playing.
“That’s the idea when you come to a team, you aim to do well, whoever is in the 11 or the match day squad, you have to be ready.
“When we have fully fit healthy squads we are doing well, we are out of the relegation zone.
“We have had a terrible runs in sense of injuries, players out injured, like Duncan, who you can’t stress enough how important he was going to be for us.
“Other injuries we have had, missing important players for large periods and that’s where the depth of your squad can help you out.”
O’Shea admits that Sunderland’s woeful season so far has been a massive disappointment and that the squad expected better.
However, he added that Middlesbrough’s expensively-assembled squad underlines the challenge of competing in an increasingly wealthy division.
He said: “I would never have imagined it would have been this difficult, but if you examine the players who have left, you are not expecting to be where you are, that’s for sure.
“I am not saying money would solve everything, but it definitely would have helped when you look at some of the squads you are facing, the options they have.
“We feel we should still be higher up the table, but it’s definitely a competitive league, the amount being spent in the championship shows that.
“You look at the young players we had playing at Middlesbrough last week and that’s a positive.
“Ethan did brilliant in midfield, Maja up top against a very experienced back four and keeper.
“I am sure Tony Pulis will have looked at that squad and thought I have a great job here in terms of the experience he has to call on and the size of the squad he has.”