ASAMOAH GYAN'S days at Sunderland look increasingly likely to be over after it was suggested that the club's estranged striker is happy to continue his Wearside exile.
Gyan has been on loan from Sunderland at United Arab Emirates outfit Al-Ain since October, and while Black Cats boss Martin O'Neill has indicated that he would be willing to give the Ghanaian a second chance at the Stadium of Light, his new coach has hinted that Gyan feels quite the opposite.
Cosmin Olaroiu, Al-Ain coach, has seen Gyan strike 11 times inside 10 appearances in the Etisalat Pro-League, and is understandably keen to hold on to the player that the club owners paid £6m to secure on loan last year.
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The loan agreement was made with a view to a permanent deal in the summer, and Olaroiu said: "If you ask me for my opinion if Gyan wants to stay in Al Ain, it is yes, but it is left for him to decide if he want to stay or not."
"From what I know about him and the way he acts, I know he feels good about this place.
"He is getting on well with the team, with us, the club management and with everybody around him.
"Gyan obviously is an important player for us. He is not only scoring for us but also creates scoring opportunities for the others and most importantly, he motivates the other players."
The 26-year-old frontman, a £13million signing from Rennes for Steve Bruce in August 2010 has not featured for Al-Ain since December owing to his involvement in the African Cup of Nations, where he missed a penalty in the semi-final against eventual winners Zambia.
Before linking up with the Black Stars in the New Year, Gyan was cagey about a possible return to the Premier League, despite a change of manager in Bruce departing and O'Neill joining.
He said: "For now I can't really say anything about Sunderland. I am on loan for a year so we will have to see what happens at the end of the season.
"Will I come back to Sunderland at the end of this season? For now I don't want to talk about my situation because I am currently on loan and I am doing well. So let's see where my future lies after my loan deal."
Much has changed since Gyan's acrimonious departure. Bruce was sacked in November, and this week, Niall Quinn left his role at the club. It was Quinn who had offered the original olive branch of a way back to Wearside in the wake of the loan deal.
And while O'Neill was positive about giving the Ghanaian a chance, it may be decided that the financial benefits of a sale, coupled with the player's apparent happiness elsewhere, could prove pivotal this summer.
"There has to be some agreeement between all three parties before anything materialises," said O'Neill last month.
"I think the club that he is playing for are pretty anxious to buy him."
Meanwhile, closer to home, Lee Cattermole will walk a suspension tightrope when his side visit West Bromwich Albion on Saturday after picking up his ninth booking of the season on Saturday.
Cattermole entered Howard Webb's book during the 2-0 FA Cup fifth round victory over Arsenal, and one more booking before the second Sunday in April would see him banned for two matches.
The Stockton-born midfielder was Sunderland's man of the match against The Gunners, and while O'Neill has options in reserve in David Meyler, Cattermole is clearly a fixture in the manager's plans as they continue to plot their climb up the league.
* Sunderland supporters are being advised to take advantage of free return bus travel to the lunchtime derby fixture at Newcastle United next week after it was announced that Northern Rail services will be temporarily suspended between the cities on Sunday, March 4.
Rail services are affected owing to scheduled engineering works throughout the day and while Metro services are unaffected, those with a valid match ticket are being urged to arrive at the Stadium of Light to be seated on free buses by 9.30am ahead of departure at 10am prompt. Kick-off is at noon.