Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has refused to rule out a winter exit for star man Fabian Delph, as the midfielder’s contract situation continues to loom over the club.
Delph, 25, has entered the final season of his deal at Villa Park, and is understood to have told management that he has no plans to renew, despite being offered fresh terms worth around £50,000-per-week.
The England international has been out of action since mid-October after suffering a dislocated shoulder in a freak training ground accident, but that has done little to discourage reported interest from the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.
Lambert hasn’t given up hope of convincing him to remain in the West Midlands, but accepts that the odds are against them as the New Year draws closer and clubs start to come knocking.
“When people are going into the last year there is always that case. You are never sure what can happen,” he told reporters, in quotes covered in the Birmingham Mail.
“With the Bosman ruling the player holds the cards. I know that because I’ve done it myself.
“I know exactly what the Bosman ruling can do. Fabian’s been playing really well and I’m pretty sure he’s feeling good - other than the injury.
“We will speak when it’s time. The door never shuts so we will just have to see. The main concern at the moment is getting him fit.”
Lambert hasn’t been able to put a timeframe on Delph’s return date, with late-December at the earliest being the original forecast, but the Scot has confirmed that he is making solid progress in his rehabilitation.
"The frustrating thing is that his fitness will still be good. It's just the actual contact he won't be able to do,” he told the club’s official website.
"He can't have contact because of the shoulder so he's doing gym work and work with the physios.
"I can't put a timeframe on his return but we will want him back as soon as we can.
"Fabian will know himself and be ready. He will be itching to get back in."