Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill has revealed striker Asamoah Gyan is unlikely to return to the club following his loan in the Middle East.
The Ghana international moved to the Stadium of Light in a £13million deal from French side Rennes two years ago and hit 10 goals in his debut season in the Premier League.
However, the 26-year-old made a shock move to United Arab Emirates side Al-Ain on a season-long loan deal last September.
Those deals were done under previous Black Cats manager Steve Bruce, with O'Neill only moving into the Stadium of Light hotseat in December.
The former Leicester boss had suggested back in January that he would be keen to see Gyan, who still has two years left on Sunderland contract, return to Wearside in time for next season.
However, he admits the impression he is getting currently suggests the striker is unwilling to make the move back.
"The situation is, I believe it was a year-long loan for a start for which they had to pay us some money of the transfer fee which we paid in the first place, and that is still in existence," said O'Neill.
"There was some talk between all parties in January that didn't come to anything. I wasn't party to those conversations, although I was kept informed of them, of course.
"I think it will be the end of the season before I can assess anything.
"There has to be a willingness on behalf of all parties as well; you wouldn't really want somebody who is really unwilling to come back to the football club, if that's the case.
"It's unfair of me to say that because it might not be the case, but it seems to be the message that's coming across."