Paolo Di Canio has said Lee Cattermole will be fully fit in time for Sunderland's return to Wearside next week - but refused to confirm that the midfielder has a future at the club.
Cattermole, 24 - a key player under former manager Martin O’Neill - signed a new three-year contract in October. However, his future has been called into question following the appointment of Di Canio, with Fulham and Hull linked with a move for him.
He was not included in the squad for Sunderland's pre-season games in Hong Kong, remaining on Wearside to continue his rehabilitation from the knee injury that has troubled him since November.
"He couldn't come [to Hong Kong] because he was not fully fit, in the opinion of both myself and the fitness coach," Di Canio told the Sunderland Echo. "He is training with the reserves and then, when we get back to Sunderland, he will be ready."
When asked whether Cattermole had a future at the Stadium of Light, the manager said: "We will see. It depends."
Meanwhile, David Moberg Karlsson is determined to prove his worth to Di Canio after a promising debut as a substitute against Tottenham in the Barclays Asia Cup.
"We've trained hard during pre-season, and it was good to test ourselves against Spurs. It will be different when we play them in the league - but we did well, nevertheless."