Aston Villa's recalcitrant defender Mark Delaney yesterday brought an end to the heated exchanges between himself and manager David O'Leary after he 'clarified his position' with the club's board. Or did he?
Delaney and O'Leary have spent the last week or so publicly airing contrasting opinions on Villa's decision to take up a one-year option on the player's contract instead of offering him a new deal.
When he found out he would not be getting another contract, the Welsh international reacted angrily and issued a statement about his 'deep disappointment' in which he criticised the club for taking so long to reach a decision about his future.
That earned him a spiky rebuke from his manager who, following the 0-0 draw at Charlton Athletic last Saturday, also claimed to be 'disappointed' and put responsibility for the decision squarely at the door of Delaney's agent for agreeing to the clause in the first place.
As a result speculation emerged over the weekend that the 29-year-old would be leaving the Midlands in the summer, possibly for a move to West Ham United.
But it appears he has thought better of his outburst, or at least been asked to do so, and so the former Cardiff City right-back last night put out a second statement, more conciliatory in tone.
It read: "Further to discussions between the board of Aston Villa Football Club and my representative, the situation regarding my future at the club has now been clarified.
"The board have made it very clear that I am part of the club's plans for the next 16 months. However, if another club is prepared to give me the opportunity of a longer term contract, they have confirmed they will not be unreasonable in their demands for a transfer fee. I would like to thank the Board for their under-standing in this matter."
All of which sounds like a clearing of the path for Delaney to leave Villa at the end of the current season, if, let it be noted, O'Leary receives a satisfactory offer for his services.
The manager has not taken kindly to Delaney's 'off-message' outpourings and more than once has called into question the defender's physical reliability.
Although Delaney has been asked to play out of position for most of this season, O'Leary has noted he has managed to do so in less than half of Villa's Premier-ship matches - a fact that no doubt came into the equation when talk of a new contract arose.
Delaney is once more injured having hurt his knee in the FA Cup draw with Manchester City ten days ago and is not expected to be available for this weekend's visit from Portsmouth.
Another doubt is Luke Moore after he picked up a thigh injury while with the England under-21s earlier this week.
The young striker broke down in training while preparing for last night's clash against Norway at Reading's Madjeski Stadium and O'Leary was keen to get the player back at Villa so the injury can be assessed.
Also out of the picture are Aaron Hughes and Olof Mellberg which will result in a call up for youngster Gary Cahill.
Meanwhile reports linking O'Leary with a bid for Carlisle United striker Michael Bridges appear to be unfounded - given there has been no contact between the clubs.
O'Leary once paid £5 million to take Bridges from Sunderland to Leeds United when he was in charge at Elland Road and the forward went on record, earlier this season, as claiming the Irishman is the best manager he has ever worked under.
Nevertheless O'Leary's opposite number and Brunton Park, Paul Simpson, denied a reunion is in the offing and also refuted suggestions the 27-year-old could move to Blackburn Rovers or Derby County.
"It's understandable that Michael will get linked to these clubs, particularly Villa because of David O'Leary, because he's scoring goals regularly and he once cost £5 million - or so he's told us anyway!," Simpson said.
"But Michael is contracted to Carlisle for this season and next and all he's thinking about is helping us to promotion.
"He's not had such a sustained run of games and goals for quite some time and continuing his current run of fitness and form has to be his priority."