Ali Carter has tipped Ronnie O'Sullivan to make a Crucible comeback and defend his World Championship title.
At the beginning of November, O'Sullivan announced he would not play again this season, having made only one low-profile outing since defeating Carter to land snooker's most highly prized trophy last May.
The explanation was that O'Sullivan had personal reasons for skipping the current campaign, and said after his victory in Sheffield that playing week-in and week-out on the tour was taking a heavy toll on his life.
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O'Sullivan did not sign up for the ongoing williamhill.com UK Championship, or next month's Masters at Alexandra Palace in London, but he is expected to have until late February – a deadline has yet to be set – to decide whether to compete at the World Championship.