Matthew Bates accepts he may find it difficult to hang on to Hartlepool United goalkeeper Scott Loach next summer.
But the manager admits he is determined to try and tie the former Watford, Ipswich and Notts County man down beyond his current deal.
Loach, who has expressed his desire to stay at Pools, has just six months left on the two-year contract he signed at Victoria Park last summer.
Bates says he is acutely aware of the situation and wants to make sure Loach is at the club well beyond his present deal.
He knows, though, that his performances this season will not have gone unnoticed, with Bates this week describing Loach as “one of the best” players in the fifth tier.
“It is always on your mind,” Bates said of players’ contract situations.
“You try and plan for January for incomings and outgoings as well as the summer ahead.
“You kind of prioritise the important things and at the moment that is not all that important.
“We love Loachy here and we want him to stay long term but it is not something we are discussing in depth at this stage. We are aware of the situation and you have to plan in advance.
“You don’t suddenly become a National League keeper having played in the Championship. He is a very good player.
“From that perspective, it will be difficult to hang on to him because he is a top keeper in there and we are seeing it every week.
“We will try to hang on to him and I think he wants to stay.”
Loach was at fault for the only goal of the game on Tuesday night at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground, but it was a rare error from the former England call up, who has saved more points than he’s lost for Pools this season.
Bates is delighted with the performances of his keeper this season.
“He has been outstanding for us,” said Bates.
“All you have to do is look at his pedigree. He was involved in England squads not all that long ago and played for top, top clubs.
“The player has improved in the short-term under Ross Turnbull (Pools’ goalkeeping coach) and I think he will only continue to get better the longer he works under him.
“You can see how much he likes being here by his performances.
“He is a top trainer, a top professional and that’s someone I want around the club for a long time.”
This weekend Pools travel to Bromley in the National League looking to bounce back from their first consecutive losses on the season.
Hartlepool lost 3-2 to Sutton United at the Super 6 Stadium last Saturday and then again 1-0 at Wrexham on Tuesday.
“We have to manage it but we are used to it,” Bates said of another long away day.
“We get good hotels and the club are great with us. There is no excuses in that sense.
“I don’t mind away days, I like them. It brings people together and you can work with people closely when you travel away for a couple of days.”