At a time when West Bromwich Albion need all the defensive options they can muster, Tony Mowbray has set long term casualty Thomas Gaardsoe a two-month deadline to decide if he has a future in the game.
The centre back has played just three matches in the last 12 months, none since February and is currently battling against a sequence of ailments to save not just his future at The Hawthorns but his entire career.
The Dane is still recovering from a groin operation he underwent six months ago by which time the arrival of Curtis Davies had already reduced his role from central to bitpart.
And for that reason Mowbray feels the 26-year-old must prove his fitness in the next couple of months or accept that he may never play again although the Albion manager has promised that the club will stand behind a player he knew from their time at Ipswich Town.
"Every football club has a responsibility to give any professional footballer every chance to get himself fit," Mowbray said. "It has been a long time for Thomas, yes he has got concerns but he will be given the opportunity to get himself fit and go and play for our football team.
"He is a great lad and we are very hopeful that he can get going and get himself right. Whatever decision is made in the future is the best for Thomas Gaardsoe."
But Mowbray also made it clear that he expected the current situation to reach a resolution in the short rather than long term. "He is on a programme to try and relieve the discomfort he gets and at the end of that he and the medical department will make a decision.
"You can't keep going on for a year or two years, he has got to make a decision what he is going to do. I would suggest before the New Year he will be making a decision whether he is going to push on or not."
If Gaardsoe could recover and find the form that made him a crucial part of the Great Escape season of 2004-05, given the team's existing defensive snafu, he could be a valuable addition to Mowbray's squad.
Albion have leaked seven goals in their last three games and through their own frailties at the back managed to turn a certain win against Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday night into a 3-3 draw — despite leading twice.
Much of the criticism for that performance has been levelled at goalkeeper Pascal Zuberbuhler who lacked presence in his own six-yard box against the Londoners and endured another inconsistent evening with his kicking.
That has been a feature of his performances for Albion this season and has led to barracking from sections of the West Brom supporters which was present once again against Rangers. It did not please Mowbray who expressed his disappointment in their treatment of the Swiss.
"I'm not one to criticise supporters because I think the fans have got behind the team brilliantly," he said "But, from my perspective, it is a little bit disappointing to hear the fans ironically cheering our keeper's clearances. I'm very respectful of people who pay their money and support the football club.
"But, for whatever reason, that habit has developed over the course of this season. We've all got a common goal. We all want to win games and entertain. That's why we've all got to strive to push on together."
However Mowbray has been sufficiently concerned by Zuberbuhler’s loss of confidence to suggest that the goalkeeping situation will be looked at which could mean a recall for former first choice Russell Hoult for this weekend’s trip to Derby County.