Ethan Robson's future could hinge on whether Sunderland land a left wingback before Friday's transfer deadline.
The midfielder returned to Wearside this month after spending the first half of the season on loan at League Two Grimsby Town, and the Mariners are one of a clutch of clubs who would be keen to take him on loan for the remainder of the campaign.
But Phil Parkinson wants to be certain that he has enough cover in every department before loaning Robson out again.
And while the arrival of Josh Scowen from QPR has intensified competition in Robson's preferred central midfield role, Parkinson has revealed that he played the 23-year-old - who has played wide on the left before - at left wingback in an in-house practice game over the weekend, in an attempt to see whether he could offer cover for Denver Hume.
Robson performed well in the practice game and got on the scoresheet, which has given the Black Cats boss food for thought.
Parkinson is still trying to bring in a left wingback as backup for Hume and if he does so, that would clear the way for Robson to go back out on loan.
However if no defender arrives during the window, Parkinson will have to decide whether he can afford to loan out Robson.
Parkinson said: "Ethan is with us at the moment and we looked at him at left wingback in training on Saturday because he has played wide left in his career.
"And he did really well in the wingback role and scored a goal.
"A few clubs have asked about taking him on loan, obviously Grimsby are one of those and there have been a couple of others.
"We have that thing where he wants to go and play, but equally we can only let that happen if we are confident we have the cover."
Robson is out of contract in the summer and knows a loan would give him the best chance of playing regular first-team games.
But if he stays on Wearside it could give him a better chance of playing in either midfield or as a stand-in wingback. impressing Parkinson, and earning himself a new deal.