Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has told Anton Ferdinand to bide his time after losing his place in the side.
Ferdinand was a regular starter during the early part of the season but Sunderland were not always convincing in defence and Bruce had to tinker to find a reliable back four.
Paulo da Silva and John Mensah, who both arrived at the Stadium of Light over the summer, have begun to settle in English football and impressed in the recent 1-0 victory over Arsenal.
Michael Turner, another summer recruit, returned from suspension to partner Da Silva for the 1-0 defeat to Wigan at the weekend.
Ferdinand has therefore found himself surplus to requirements but Bruce insists he has not forgotten about the former West Ham man and has urged him to remain patient.
"He has every right not to be happy because he is not in the team at the moment due to the form of Mensah and Da Silva, who have played exceptionally well, and Michael Turner is available too," said Bruce.
"But that competition for places has got to be there when you play at a big club like this. I wouldn't expect him to be happy, it's normal.
"He is not in the team, so he is not going to be. But he has just got to get on with it and wait for his chance to come again - which it will - and then make it very, very difficult for me to leave him out."
Injuries and suspensions have forced Bruce to make changes and he admits that will happen again as the campaign continues.
Kieran Richardson, Kenwyne Jones, Lorik Cana and Turner have already served bans, and Richardson, who was sent off at Manchester United, and full-back Phil Bardsley are currently both on four bookings.
Bruce does not want his players to blunt their competitive edge but feels they should try to take a little more care.
He said: "It's getting to that part of the season where your competitive players are going to be picking up yellow cards.
"They know they have got to tread a bit carefully, that's for sure, but you can't say too much to them because you don't want it to affect their performance."