Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill is keeping his fingers crossed that Tottenham do not decide to recall full-back Danny Rose next month.
The 22-year-old has been arguably the Black Cats' most accomplished player to date this season, having joined on a season-long loan deal from Spurs in August.
However, O'Neill has revealed there is a recall clause which could see Rose return to White Hart Lane in January, and he is hoping that does not prove to be the case with Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who has missed much of the campaign to date through injury, now back in training. O'Neill told the Sunderland Echo: "We have not spoken to Tottenham about it in any sort of formal way."
He added: "I think Tottenham are happy he's plying his trade here and I think Assou-Ekotto is coming into fitness now, so while they have the ability to recall him in January, they might feel they are well enough stocked now."
Rose has made the left-back spot at the Stadium of Light his own since making his debut in the 1-1 Barclays Premier League draw with Liverpool on September 15, and even played a brief cameo in central midfield against Chelsea a fortnight ago .
O'Neill has been hugely impressed and has expressed a desire to keep him on Wearside, although there is little doubt that his form will have alerted not only Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas, but potential suitors too, with QPR linked with an interest in him.
O'Neill said: "Danny has improved immensely since he arrived and I think there's a bit more to come as well. He's got a bit of confidence now.
"When he first got here I think he was conscious of avoiding making too many mistakes. That was his focus.
"But he's playing with a bit more freedom now. He's feeling more confident. Initially he was happy just to give the ball to someone in front of him, but now he's looking to make things happen himself and he's doing very well."