Mat Ryan will not start for Brighton and Hove Albion against Sheffield United on Sunday, and Graham Potter says he would be free to leave in January if he wished.
The Australia international has impressed since signing for the Seagulls in 2017, but was dropped for the second time this season when Robert Sanchez played in a 0-0 draw with Fulham on Wednesday.
Sanchez will start again against the struggling Blades, and while dismissing the suggestion Ryan had played his last game for Brighton, Potter is open to allowing the former Valencia goalkeeper to leave.
"I think you've got to be respectful to the professional and his career and his family and his situation," said Potter. "On the one hand, we're saying that we're going to give Rob a chance and an opportunity and you want to give him that time. At the same time, you know the situation may be for him (Ryan) that he wants to be in a better position in terms of somewhere where he is more able to play or move involved in playing.
"I think out of respect for Mat, you've got to give him that freedom to do that. But in the end, it's down to Mat and the club."
Brighton go up against a Blades team who have picked up just one point this season, with Chris Wilder's side having made the poorest start to a top-flight season in football league history.
"If I thought it was the right thing for Sheffield United Football Club. That's the only time I would do that," said Wilder when asked about the possibility of resigning. "The club means far too much to me for it to be about me. I've seen that there's still plenty of heart and spirit in this group."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Brighton and Hove Albion – Robert Sanchez
Potter will be hoping his decision to drop Ryan pays off, and with the Blades having struggled so much in front of goal, Sanchez will be out to stake his claim as Brighton's new number one.
Sheffield United – David McGoldrick
McGoldrick's displays in recent matches have been a positive for United, and the forward netted both of their goals against Manchester United. As it stands, however, his team-mates are not offering enough in support.
KEY OPTA FACTS
• Brighton are winless in four league meetings with Sheffield United (D1 L3), since a 2-1 Championship win at Bramall Lane in January 2005.
• The Blades are unbeaten in their last five away league games against Brighton (W3 D2), since a 0-2 loss in the second tier in May 1987. They won this fixture 1-0 last season.
• Brighton are unbeaten in their five Premier League games against sides starting the day bottom (W2 D3). These five games have produced just four goals (3 for Brighton, 1 against), with no side scoring more than once in a game.
• Of the ever-present Premier League sides in 2020, Brighton have won the fewest home points this calendar year (10), while Sheffield United have won the fewest on the road (6).
• Brighton are winless in their last 10 Premier League home games (D4 L6) since beating Arsenal 2-1 in June. Only once in their league history have they gone longer without a win at home (12 games between October 1997-February 1998).