Stoke boss Tony Pulis has revealed Ryan Shotton will go out on loan in January if he fails to break into the first team by then.
The versatile 22-year-old, who can play at right-back or centre-half, has yet to make his Premier League debut, although he was an unused substitute for the first time this term at Wigan last Saturday.
Pulis wants to keep the Academy graduate close at hand for the busy festive schedule ahead but if he fails to gain game time, the Stoke boss is prepared to let him go out on loan again.
Pulis told The Sentinel: "He still needs more games so he'll be one of those we will be looking to get out on loan if he's not near the team over Christmas.
"For the moment he's staying put because we need all hands on deck with four league games in 10 days coming up.
"That's why Michael Tonge and Danny Pugh will be coming back when their month on loan at Preston is up next week."
Shotton made more than 30 appearances on a season-long loan spell at Barnsley last term and Pulis wanted him to mix it at the Britannia Stadium.
He added: "I wanted him to be closer to the players for a spell back here and feel part of things again.
"I also wanted him playing at a Premier League pace, if you like, with Premier League players in training day after day.
"But if he's not getting any action come the New Year, I will look to get him out for some game time again."