Lee Hendrie admits that he has been left "in limbo" by the insecurity of his Aston Villa future.
And the Villa midfielder knows the next month will decide his immediate prospects - whether that means winning his fight to nail down a regular starting place with Villa or going out on loan to secure first team football.
"I'm disappointed at the lack of opportunities," said Hendrie. "We're into the New Year and this was only my third start.
"I'm in limbo. I don't really want to be leaving here, as I'm a Villa boy. But I need to be playing games.
"I did ask to go out on loan, but I'd also like to think this didn't do my chances of keeping the shirt any harm."
At least Hendrie's performance after returning from injury appeared to increase manager David O'Leary's options.
Hendrie has been sidelined by the form of the on-loan James Milner on the right wing. But, since Freddie Bouma's injury over Christmas, necessitating Gareth Barry's reversion to left-back, the adaptable Milner has switched wings, freeing up a right-side midfield place.
While Villa's other loan man, Eirik Bakke, is in line to return, Barry will be suspended for next week's visit of West Ham United to Villa Park, and Hendrie hopes he has done enough to stay in.
And O'Leary remains insistent that he does not have the manpower to let Hendrie go.
"Lee has not come to me on any matter about wanting to go out on loan," said O'Leary. "I think he knows we can't afford to let anyone go on loan.
"Nobody has rang me up about Hendrie, Mark Delaney or Uli De La Cruz. And we'd knock them back if they did, because we're down to the bare bones."
Hendrie was the only survivor from Villa's last FA Cup victory, the 1-0 third round replay win over Newcastle United in January 2001.
"After all that time, it's nice to finally be in the next round again," he added. "When you get knocked out in January, you start thinking 'What's left to go for this season?'
"But, once you get past this stage and you're up against Premiership and good Championship sides, you start fancying your chances. You don't want to be going down to the Doncasters of this world, with all due respect, because it's like a cup final to them.
"In the team talk immediately before the game, it was all about 'Just make sure we don't have another Doncaster'."
Barry added: "The attitude was very good.
We picked it up from the Doncaster performance."
Following on from his Carling Cup double at Wycombe, three of Barry's four goals this season have now come in the cups. But being a knockout specialist is something he's used to.
"That's the third year running I've scored in the third round," he said.