AHMED Elmohamady is back at Sunderland, but his future almost certainly remains in East Yorkshire.
The Egyptian has been recalled from a loan spell at Championship side Hull City after the Black Cats were unable to name a full substitutes’ bench for either FA Cup game against Bolton Wanderers.
He is in the squad for today’s Premier League match at Wigan Athletic.
O’Neill recalled Elmohamady on Tuesday because it was his last chance to do so.
He said: “He had a situation where we can recall him, a bit like Danny Rose (who is on loan at Sunderland from Tottenham Hotspur).
“There was a certain day on which we had to do it. That was midnight after the game against Bolton. I had been told and forgotten about it.
“I’ve since spoken to Hull manager Steve Bruce and told him we will monitor it here.
“Elmo is enjoying it, he’s playing first-team football. Maybe that’s not guaranteed here. If it was he’d be delighted to be coming back.
“We had to do it at the time otherwise it would have gone past the deadline.”
Hull are keen to sign Elmohamady and O’Neill is trying to clear out the fringe players with no long-term future on Wearside.
He has put Frazier Campbell’s move to Cardiff City on hold for the same reason Elmohamady has been recalled – Sunderland need more recruits before they can afford further departures. Alfred N’Diaye has joined from Bursaspor, and centre-back Kader Mangane is on a six-month loan, but they have been offset by the sale of David Meyler (also to Hull), and Ji Dong-won’s loan to Augsburg.
N’Diaye caught the eye during a six-minute cameo against West Ham United last week, but O’Neill doubts Mangane is quite ready for Premier League football yet after spending the first half of the season in the less intense Saudi Arabian football.
He added: “Big Mangane is just checking out the environment . I am hoping he’ll come in the short-term. “Alfred has been playing pretty regularly in a very decent league. He would be less of a concern.”