Sunderland manager Chris Coleman says he “doesn’t know” where want-away midfielder Jack Rodwell is mentally.
The already-relegated Black Cats travel to promotion-chasing Fulham in the Championship on Friday, but long-term absentee Rodwell will not feature.
“I don’t even know where Jack is, to be honest with you. So no, he won’t be involved [at Fulham],” Coleman said.
Afterwards, Coleman clarified that he was referring to Rodwell’s mental state rather than his whereabouts.
The former Everton and Manchester City midfielder, 27, reportedly earning £70,000-a-week at the Stadium of Light, is training with Sunderland’s under-23 squad.
Nick Barnes, BBC Radio Newcastle
Coleman is saying he knows where Rodwell is physically, but mentally he has no idea what is going on with him.
The situation remains as was – Rodwell is under contract, training with the under-23 side, and is set to be earning £43,000-a-week in League One next season when his deferred wage cut from this term kicks in. That is, unless something happens in the summer.
‘Where’s he going to leave and go to?’
Rodwell has not made a senior appearance for Sunderland since September and has asked to leave the club he joined for £10m from Manchester City in August 2014.
Sunderland offered to tear up his contract earlier this season, but Rodwell decided to stay.
His current deal, set to expire in the summer of 2019, does not include Sunderland’s usual 40% wage reduction clause following relegation.
In a newspaper interview in January, Rodwell insisted he was fit and available for selection and said it would be “unfair” to ask him to walk away from a lucrative contract, but Coleman believes he does not want to play for Sunderland again.
The former Wales boss added: “I’m quite sure we’ve gone down the legal route of that situation, and we’re stuck with a player that doesn’t want to play for Sunderland Football Club and wants to leave.
“But then where’s he going to leave and go to? There’s the conundrum.”
Rodwell has made only 53 starts for the Black Cats, with only three league appearances coming this season.