Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has told Anton Ferdinand to remain patient as he waits for another chance to impress.
The £8million man has found himself surplus to requirements in recent weeks with Paulo da Silva and John Mensah lining up in central defence for the 1-0 win over Arsenal and Michael Turner returning from suspension to partner Da Silva at Wigan on Saturday.
"He has every right not to be happy because he is not in the team at the moment due to the form of Mensah and Da Silva, who have played exceptionally well, and Michael Turner is available too," Bruce said. "But he has just got to get on with it and wait for his chance to come again - which it will - and then make it very, very difficult for me to leave him out."
Ferdinand was linked with a move to Tottenham with full-back Alan Hutton heading in the opposite direction on the final day of the summer transfer window, and there has been speculation that Sunderland could listen to offers for him in January.
With Turner having established himself as Bruce's first-choice central defender and Da Silva and Mensah having also impressed - although the Paraguayan was too easily brushed aside by Wigan's Hugo Rodallega for the winning goal at the weekend - the former West Ham man may have to wait for his chance.
Injuries and suspension have forced the manager to make changes already this season and he knows that will happen again as the campaign continues.
Kieran Richardson, Kenwyne Jones, Lorik Cana and Turner have already served bans, and Richardson, who was sent off at Manchester United, and full-back Phil Bardsley are currently both on four bookings.
However, Bruce accepts that is an occupational hazard for combative players, and while he has asked Cana and Lee Cattermole in particular to take greater care, he does not want to blunt their competitive edge.
He said: "It's getting to that part of the season where your competitive players are going to be picking up yellow cards.
"They know they have got to tread a bit carefully, that's for sure, but you can't say too much to them because you don't want it to affect their performance."
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