Adam Reed concedes that he is likely to leave Sunderland in the summer, regardless of his contract situation.
The 21-year-old midfielder will see his current deal at the Stadium of Light expire at the end of the season, and he is not expected to be offered fresh terms.
Reed claims he would be exploring his options even if he was tied to the Black Cats long-term, with it important for him to be playing regularly at this stage of his career.
With opportunities having been hard to come by on Wearside, the youngster is currently taking in a month-long loan spell at League One strugglers Portsmouth.
On his future, Reed told the Sunderland Echo: "My contract is up in the summer and I've been out on loan a lot, so I've played quite a few league games now. But then you go back and you don't get an opportunity - so it gets a bit frustrating.
"I know I will have to look at my future and I will find out sooner rather than later whether they will offer me a contract or whether I want to find another club and play first-team football.
"I've been there a long time and it will be hard to make that decision if I decide to leave. But every player wants to play first-team football once you've had that taste.
"There is nothing like league football and if I am meant to play at the highest level, I will get there."
In linking up with Pompey, Reed finds himself at a club sweating on their very existence.
The youngster, who has also taken in loan spells at Brentford, Bradford and Leyton Orient in the past, claims to be enjoying himself, though.
He added: "I've been on loan at other League One clubs but this is a massive club - the biggest one I've been on loan at.
"I don't mind travelling and playing for clubs if it is the right move for me."
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