Paul Lambert has intimated that Richard Dunne could be offered a new deal by Aston Villa despite his lack of game time this season.
Dunne has not played a single game for Villa this season as he struggles to overcome a hip and groin problem that have sidelined him since after Euro 2012.
The defender had been due to make his return earlier this month only to meet with a setback, which ruled him out for another spell.
With his contract due to expire at the end of the season it was speculated that Villa would let him leave, but Lambert is not so sure and has hinted the 33-year-old could yet be offered a new deal.
"It is not a case of running out of time. I know what the guy can do. It is not as if he is 19 or 20 years old and has to impress. I have an open mind but the main thing for me is that he is going to be fit again," Lambert explained.
"We will have to wait and see what the surgeon has said about the injury. I am pretty sure that he will not require another operation.
"The advice that Richard has been given is that he will just have to battle through the problem. I will have a rough idea of what will happen after what the surgeon has been saying to Richard.
"The surgeon expected this to happen and the advice was to go back and see him again if it did. First and foremost the main thing is to get the guy back to fitness.
"That is the big thing for me. There is nothing in my mind other than getting that lad fit."