Martin O'Neill has reiterated his intention to keep the likes of Stephane Sessegnon at Sunderland as he plots forward progress for the club.
Sessegnon has been one of the Black Cats' stand-out performers this season and he has been linked with a summer move to former club Paris St Germain and Arsenal.
There had been suggestions that the Benin international was unhappy on Wearside, but Sessegnon dismissed that speculation earlier this week, insisting he is committed to the club.
Though O'Neill says he was unaware of Sessegnon's comments, he confirmed that the attacker is an integral part of his future plans at the Stadium of Light.
O'Neill said: "I didn't know he had said anything publicly, I must admit. I didn't know he had spoken, the oracle, and I am delighted he has done.
"He won the player of the year at the meeting of the supporters' club, and I think he was genuinely pleased with that.
"The trophy that he picked up is about four inches bigger than he is. He seemed in decent form."
The diminutive forward, who was signed by O'Neill's predecessor Steve Bruce for £6million in January last year, has proved vital in the Black Cats' fightback from a poor start to the campaign which ultimately cost Bruce his job.
His invention and goals - he is currently joint top scorer with Nicklas Bendtner and Sebastian Larsson on eight - have proved invaluable, and O'Neill is keen to retain his services.
O'Neill added with a smile: "If he puts in performances like he put in last week [against Bolton], then we might have some other thoughts on that - he was rubbish.
"But he's been a terrific player for us, really terrific, and I am delighted with him.
"Obviously, we have to try to keep the best players. The only way for us to progress is to keep our best players, and Sessegnon definitely comes into that category."