David Healy has been left out of Sunderland’s pre-season trip to Portugal.
Northern Ireland’s record goalscorer has been left behind by manager Steve Bruce and instead the Killyleagh-man has travelled to Scotland, where the Black Cats reserve team squad will play a series of matches.
It is the biggest sign yet that Healy doesn’t figure in Bruce’s first-team plans at the Stadium of Light, after he also missed the weekend friendly against Darlington.
Healy — who will be 30 next month — is expected to leave the club this summer and has just over six weeks to secure a move before the transfer window closes.
There is better news for Northern Ireland under-21 international goalkeeper Trevor Carson, who has been included in the first-team squad.
He will battle it out with recent signing Simon Mignolet for the gloves on the tour, with a place in the team for the opening game of the season at home to Birmingham City up for grabs as regular number one Craig Gordon ruled out of the early matches after undergoing surgery on a broken arm.
George McCartney, who has been linked with a return to West Ham United, is also with the first-team squad for the three-game trip to the Algarve.