Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce challenged Jermain Defoe to take his chance when it presents itself after his complaints over game time.
Defoe, 33, last started for the club in September and was given just 20 minutes off the bench in Allardyce’s first game in charge, a 1-0 loss to West Brom.
The Englishman is hungry for game time and Allardyce said it was up to the veteran, who has two Premier League goals in seven appearances this season, to prove he deserved it.
“Every player at the football club who is not playing on a regular basis wants to play,” Allardyce said ahead of Sunday’s derby clash against Newcastle United.
“Like Jermain said, he didn’t come here to sit on the bench. All the players who are here haven’t come here to sit on the bench.
“But when you talk about 22 outfield players in the squad these days, some of them unfortunately don’t play as regularly as others, so what I would say is those who get the chance make sure you grasp it when you get it.
“If you grab that chance then and you impress me, it’s going to give you the opportunity to be selected for the first team in the next game.”
Defoe’s chances may take a further hit after Allardyce revealed former Schalke forward Chinedu Obasi was trialling with the club.
Obasi, 29, has been without a club since leaving the Bundesliga side at the end of last season.
“There’s a triallist in at the moment. He used to play for Schalke but he’s been injured,” Allardyce said.
“He’s a Nigerian international and we are just seeing because he’s got a reasonably good CV, in terms of where he’s played before.
“He has been fraught with a bad injury, which is why he’s not been fixed up with a club yet, but we’d like to see him for this week and perhaps next week.
“But I need someone who has an impact now, not in three weeks’ time, so it will be a difficult task I think. He’s here and if he can show us anything we haven’t got then there maybe something we can do.”