Fast forward to March, however, and the 26-year-old has already received his first Scotland call-up in three years.
The midfielder has insisted game time is the key to his international career, being confident of his ability but not necessarily the chance to show it at Sunderland.
And, if game time is all Bridcutt needs to get in the Scotland squad, could that be all he needs to make his mind up about his Leeds/Sunderland future?
Indeed, the Leeds loanee has generally been in impressive form, barring the odd average display, at Elland Road and is a regular fixture in a team where boss Steve Evans is a great admirer of the 26-year-old.
A player's international career can often be a decisive factor when it comes to their club choices and, even if Sunderland go down, there is no guarantee Bridcutt will get a game for the Black Cats.
At Leeds, Bridcutt's first-team place is so safe it looks like Evans could build a team around him. If that gets him into the Scotland squad, it may take United a step closer to securing his permanent signature this summer.