Martin O'Neill has confirmed Danny Rose may be recalled in January by Tottenham Hotspur but says he is hoping to keep the defender for the rest of the season.
Rose, 22, has been in outstanding form for the Wearsiders this season, with O'Neill keen to explore the possibility of making the move permanent.
And although parent club Spurs are entitled to take him back to White Hart Lane, the Sunderland boss believes the promise of regular football at the Stadium of Light may lead to Rose staying.
"We've not spoken to Tottenham about it in any sort of formal way," O'Neill told the Sunderland Echo. "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.
"Danny has improved immensely since he arriving 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."
Having started only eight Premier League games for Tottenham prior to this season, Rose is relishing the responsibility of playing for Sunderland's senior side, according to O'Neill.
"He said himself that playing in the Under 21s is a completely different experience from the intensity of the Premier League and that has been tough for him," O'Neill added.
"He's had to learn how to deal with that. 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."