Paul Lambert has revealed that Aston Villa defender Richard Dunne could be set to miss the rest of the season because of injury and fitness problems.
The Republic of Ireland international centre-back has not played since Euro 2012 after undergoing three operations to repair hip and groin problems, and with his current deal expiring at the end of the season, his case for being offered a new contract may be weakening.
Lambert confirmed that Dunne, a reported target Malaga as well as Major League Soccer in the USA, is still not close to returning.
"He is still not ready to start playing again," the Villa manager told reporters. "Richard's injury is one of the most frustrating I've seen.
"It's been stop and start for him. It's been most frustrating for Richard to get back. We just have to see how he progresses over the rest of the weeks this season."
The 33-year-old is one of the highest earners at Villa Park and is still yet to play under Lambert, who took over in the summer after leaving his post at Norwich.