Martin O'Neill has conceded that a lack of first-team action could persuade midfielder Craig Gardner to seek a move away from Aston Villa in the current transfer window.
The 23-year-old Birmingham-born midfielder has started just three games for O'Neill's side this season and has been linked with moves to local rivals Birmingham City and Wolves.
The former England Under-21 international has failed to break into the first-team picture in recent weeks despite shaking off a back injury.
"There seems to be a lot of talk about it," admitted O'Neill. "I haven't heard anything yet from any of the two clubs in recent times.
"A number of clubs have enquired about him, but there's been nothing definite about it.
"In an ideal world he's one player I would genuinely like to keep, but that might not be possible.
"I spoke to him before the match. He's naturally down, although his training has been very good, he's been very bright.
"I'll just reiterate again, in an ideal world I'd like to keep him but I don't know what might materialise."