Dickson Etuhu has firmly ruled out going out on loan in the new year - even though he faces a tough battle to break into the Fulham side, writes Yann Tear.
The Nigerian midfielder was named on the bench for the second time in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Man City but is still waiting to make his Whites debut after a £1.5m summer move from Sunderland.
He is also waiting for his first proper action in nearly a year after getting injured while on international duty.
The form of Jimmy Bullard and skipper Danny Murphy - who have become automatic starters - makes an early chance to establish himself appear difficult.
Yet any thoughts of finding his feet again elsewhere hold no appeal.
"A loan is out of the question," the 26-year-old Etuhu told the Gazette. "I doubt that they will let me go out on loan anyway and I'm willing to stay here and fight for my spot.
"Jimmy and Danny are top, top players and that makes it hard for any player to get into that midfield, but I'm willing to work hard and do whatever it takes to get into the team.
"I feel that as long as I keep preparing myself, I'll get my chance. Sooner or later, it will come. It's down to the manager though. All I can do is make sure I'm fit.
"I'm expecting to play a couple of national team games soon and that will get me some fitness. I got a call the other day asking me how I am and hopefully some games will help."
Etuhu continued: "The fitness is coming on slowly. I'm still quite a bit away from full fitness, but hopefully soon I'll get 20 minutes here and 15 minutes there.
"The lads are doing so well and playing well and I know I have to be patient. But it's been a joy to watch them and I can't wait to get involved.
"The manager's been patient and helped me come through.
"It's been nearly a year since I got injured in the African Cup of Nations quarter-final in Ghana.
"Since then I haven't played any football, but thank god I'm coming back now.
"My medial ligaments were damaged and I kept building up calcium and extra bone which has now been cleaned out. I now feel better than before.
"It's been a long long time, but I'm getting there and working really hard in extra training."
"I was hoping to get 10 or 15 minutes against Man City, but I didn't and I just look forward to next week now."
Etuhu, who played for Man City, Preston and Norwich before moving to the Stadium of Light added: "Leaving Sunderland was probably the hardest decision I've ever had to make because they wanted me to stay there, but I'm not looking behind me, just looking forward - and looking forward to doing well for Fulham."