Chris Coleman says if Sunderland are serious about rebuilding then Paddy McNair must be at the centre of it.
The Northern Ireland midfielder has been in superb form in recent games after finally getting a run in the side following a series of groin injuries on the back of being out the team for 10 months with a serious knee injury.
Coleman has hailed the influence athletic McNair has on this Sunderland side in their ongoing attempts to pull off an unlikely escape from relegation.
With the club seven points from safety and only five games remaining, League One football next season is on the cards.
McNair scored a superb goal three minutes into the second half of the 1-1 draw with Leeds United at Elland Road, to cap off another impressive display.
Coleman says it is imperative whichever division struggling Sunderland find themselves in that they rebuild the side around 22-year-old McNair.
"Paddy changes your life when he is fit, in midfield covering the ground with his physicality and legs," beamed Coleman.
"He has done very well in there with George Honeyman and Lee Cattermole, there is a good blend, a good chemistry.
"His goal was great, maybe he should have scored after that as well.
"We look a different team with Paddy in the side. If you do your cruciate, that is a word in football that everybody winces at.
"To come back, it has taken time, but he looks good and strong playing 90 minutes after 90 minutes.
"It is massive to keep hold of him. If we are serious about building a team here, it has to be with him in it, if the worst happens, the unthinkable.
"This club [Leeds United] dropped a league and got back. It is not easy but doable.
"If you are going to rebuild it, he is integral, simple as that."