Hartlepool United boss Craig Harrison is desperate to hang on to Nicky Featherstone.
Rumours have been rife on the internet forums and social media that Pools could be about to let the 29-year-old depart this month, with Gateshead supposedly ready to step in to snap the midfielder up.
But Harrison sees the player as a key member or his Pools squad, both for his influence on and off the park.
Featherstone’s experience is seen as integral to getting the club’s season back on track on the park, while uncertainty rumbles on off it.
Of course, with Pools in a perilous state financially, the decision could end up being taken out of Harrison’s hands.
Should a significant cash offer come in for the former Hull, Grimsby, Hereford and Walsall man, it’s difficult to see how Pools could turn it down.
The club have to find around £200,000 by Thursday, January 25, in order to fulfil their financial requirements for the month.
This amount is to cover both player and staff wages, as well as an outstanding tax bill to the HMRC.
So far fan initiatives online have managed to drum up considerable funds to aid Pools’ cause, and they also managed to rake in £50,000 this week from the sale of 17-year-old youth prospect Connor Simpson to Preston North End. Although, they are unlikely to receive the whole of the that fee up front – it is more commonly paid in instalments.
Should they default, Hartlepool United have admitted that administration is a “very real prospect”.
And that has led many fans to speculate that a fire sale of players start this month, with the January transfer window only having 19 days to run.
But word from behind the scenes at Pools is that things are not yet at that stage.
Meanwhile, Harrison was told back in November that he would have no cash to spend this month.
And he says deals off the field, in terms of transfers, are not the be all and end all.
“The squad is what it is, and we know what’s going on off the pitch,” said the manager.
“But the positive thing about the National League is that you can change, it’s on-going with making changes, It’s not all about January and getting players in and out.
“At the end of the day, you never know what the future may hold.”
Knowing that he can’t sign, hasn’t stopped Harrison looking, mind.
“We are constantly looking for players to improve, but at this moment in time we have what we have got,” said the manager, who had lined up a potential deal for Sunderland youngster Elliot Embleton this month.
“That’s not disrespectful to anyone here because we do have good players and good lads, but we get on with it. The experienced lads who have been here and been here when there’s been uncertainty off the pitch, they can get on with it because it won’t kill us. They have seen it, done it and come through.”