Sunderland boss David Moyes is looking for ways he can keep defender John O'Shea on the field for as long as possible.
Moyes admits the Black Cats are a better side when the veteran defender is on the pitch then when he is not, but it is a question of managing his fitness.
He was missing for the late capitulation against Crystal Palace while the draw with West Brom was just his third start of the campaign.
When he was asked how important he is to the cause, Moyes was in no doubt.
“Very important,” Moyes told the Echo. “I just think where we are at at the moment we need his feeling of calmness, understanding of the position.
“John has been a really good player during his career and he did a good job for us and he’ll continue to do a good job for us because we’ll need him.
“But we also need to know that he’s 34-years-old now (he is actually 35, 36 next April) and not 24, so we have to just decide when we can introduce people who we think might be the future as we go along.”