Steve Bruce has admitted he can't start contract talks with injury-ravaged Sunderland goalkeeper Craig Gordon anytime soon.
The former Hearts shot-stopper has spent much of his life with the Black Cats on the sidelines since his £9million transfer four years ago and is only due to return from knee surgery next month.
Bruce is faced with the dilemma of whether to renew Gordon's contract, which runs out at the end of the season, during what has been a stop-start career at the Stadium of Light.
The 28-year-old Scotland international will also have the difficult task of dislodging No.1 Simon Mignolet who has been in fine form for Bruce's men, particularly this term.
The Sunderland boss has revealed that talks will not take place with Gordon until he gets himself fit again, but said the door was not shut.
"It's a horrible dilemma that we face as a club, because we paid £9m for him, but he's probably been injured for two of the three years that he's been here," Bruce told the Daily Mirror.
"That's a big problem for us. We hope he has the resilience to get back. I certainly think he has. If he gets himself back on the pitch, we can address the situation from there.
"At the moment, I really don't think I can be starting contract negotiations. If I'm being honest with him, I'm not in that position yet and we won't be until we see him back fit and raring to go.
"He's still on course. He had a bit of a reaction 10 days ago, but it was nothing too serious. He's still on course to play some sort of part in the next month or so.
"By the end of October, he should be there or thereabouts. In terms of his future, the big thing is getting him out on the pitch. I haven't shut the door on him here. Why should I?"