Martin O'Neill is adamant that Nicky Shorey still has a future at Aston Villa despite the left-back's attempt to leave the club on transfer deadline day.
Shorey appeared poised for a loan move to Portsmouth on September 1 but his transfer to Fratton Park did not materialise, with Pompey chief executive Peter Storrie later revealing that the player wanted guarantees that he would be a first choice under manager Paul Hart.
The 28-year-old has now returned to a Villa squad that was strengthened by the capture of Blackburn Rovers left-back Stephen Warnock over the summer, while Dutch defender Wilfred Bouma is also nearing the end of his lengthy absence due to a horrendous ankle injury.
Shorey has appeared in all five of Villa's games so far this season though and O'Neill insists that the defender, who has won two caps for England, is still a valuable member of his squad.
"Does he have a part to play? Of course," O'Neill told the Birmingham Mail. "I think Nicky and his agent kind of pre-empted things a little bit by thinking he was not going to play.
"I had certainly not been pushing him out but something came up and they wanted to explore that. I gave them that opportunity but it didn't come off.
"Nicky wants to come back here and really fight for a place in the side. We have Warnock and then Freddie [Bouma] to come back so there's options, which will be very important between now and January."
Former PSV Eindhoven defender Bouma has not played for Villa since July 2008 when he suffered a serious ankle dislocation in an Intertoto Cup fixture against Odense. However, the Dutchman is nearing a return to action despite missing a recent reserve game.
"It's getting to a stage now where I think he is just about ready to come in," said O'Neill. "Obviously he wasn't able to play in the reserve fixture but we are hoping to arrange something in the next ten days specifically for him and I'm hoping psychologically he'll feel much better after that."