Mat Ryan - the last surviving Australian in the English Premier League - has been told he’s free to leave Brighton & Hove Albion, after losing his spot to young Spanish goalkeeper Robert Sanchez.
Seagulls boss Graham Potter revealed yesterday the struggling club won’t - “out of respect” - stand in Ryan’s way should he seek a January move elsewhere in search of first team football.
Potter’s stance represents an abrupt change of course at the club where Ryan, 28, has been a ubiquitous presence since arriving on a five-year deal in 2017, making 121 out of a possible 127 Premier League starts.
However, Potter left the Socceroos’ first choice gloveman in little doubt over where he now stands in the pecking order ahead of Sunday’s duel against rock-bottom Sheffield United.
Asked if Ryan would be spotted again in a Brighton shirt, Potter replied: “I can't see into the future. But I wouldn't say it's as extreme as that.
“I think you've got to be respectful to the professional and his career and his family and his situation.
“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 more 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."
Ryan’s agent, former Middlesbrough striker Mikkel Beck, declined to comment on his predicament when contacted by The World Game.
But, in light of Potter’s remarks, it’s likely he’ll be exploring the shot-stopper’s options in January, with Ryan needing to be playing regularly to fend off the challenge of in-form Mitch Langerak for the Australia jersey heading into a hectic round of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers next year.
Ryan currently holds the record for the most Premier League appearances made by a Brighton player, one ahead of skipper Lewis Dunk.
He was dropped for the midweek stalemate against Fulham, having previously been left out of last month’s 2-1 loss to Tottenham.
On both occasions Sanchez got the nod ahead Ryan, who was signed for a then club record free from Valencia.
Potter believes Sanchez, 23, possesses qualities that offer Brighton something “different”.
“Mat has been a top servant for this club. He's been a brilliant professional to work with for me and I have the utmost respect for him," added Potter.
"Sometimes you get a sense that for the team, a different attribute can help and I think Rob has those attributes.”