Sunderland manager Gus Poyet reckons there is plenty of life left in Wes Brown and appears to have revealed the veteran is his number one centre back at the club.
Poyet added Santiago Vergini to his squad yesterday to add further competition to the ranks. He has also previously insisted that players that he brings to the club will be with the intention of actually playing them. If that means that Vergini is earmarked for an important role, even in the long term, then it doesn't look like it will be at the expense of Brown.
Speaking to The Mirror, amongst others, Poyet said:
I would say if we keep playing the way we are playing, Wes could play with us until he is 40. He has a way of playing... there is a way of understanding the shape, how high up you play, plenty of things that influence the game. When you are so ahead of the game, if you keep yourself fit, you can go on.
Does he want to play until he's 40? I don't think so, but maybe he will. You never know how much longer he's going to play because if the body does too much he might break down. But every time he's all right, he plays.
I think at the age of 27, 28, you should know everything. From then on you just play with the mind, with cleverness and intelligence.
The centre back positions certainly make for interesting competition now. Vergini appears to be very much Poyet's man after the Uruguayan admitted to targeting the player for a potential Premier league campaign with Brighton. However, the experience and pedigree of Brown and John O'Shea can't be sniffed at easily given the situation.
What all this could mean is that O'Shea - the captain - is the man who will come under immediate pressure from Vergini's arrival. But may be we should just hope he is better than Mobido Diakite for now. Baby steps, and all that.