Gareth Barry's international aspirations could be the key to determining his future as an Aston Villa player, it has emerged.
The 25-year-old is rumoured to be the subject of renewed interest from Tottenham Hotspur after reports came out that the London side were poised to make a second bid for the midfielder.
Although Villa deny that an offer has been made, they have rejected one this summer and tried to set up a swap deal involving Anthony Gardner during David O'Leary's reign. It is known that Barry is concerned at the state of affairs at Villa Park.
Like most of his team-mates he is disquietened at speculation surrounding the sale of the club and the failure to find a replacement for the Irishman when he is anxious to force his way back into the England side.
With his international career stymied by Sven-Goran Eriksson's tendency to stick to the same players, Barry is hoping to impress new man Steve McClaren before the European Championship qualifiers.
The chances of him doing that will not be helped by the off-field turmoil at the club he has represented for nine years, although it is thought he is not desperate to get away.
Barry has always enjoyed a good relationship with chairman Doug Ellis and was about to be named club captain before O'Leary's departure, which means he recognises the importance of being in a positive environment.
Meanwhile, Martin O'Neill remains the clear favourite to replace O'Leary, possibly as early as this week.
Villa are due to go on tour to Germany and Holland at the end of this week - their first match is in Hanover on Saturday - and will want to appoint a new man at the earliest opportunity.
O'Neill is due to meet with the club before that time, but may want assurances over the club's imminent takeover before he commits to coming to the Midlands.
Apparently the only man who doesn't want the Ulsterman to take charge is Nicholas Padfield, the QC heading up the consortium AV06.
A source close to the group had confirmed as much when they stated they would pull out if the former Celtic man is confirmed.
"We have heard that Martin O'Neill has been identified by Villa and if that is the case, we will withdraw from the running," the source said. "We have our own management structure in place and will go elsewhere."
That structure is believed to centre on a dream-ticket partnership of former Denmark internationals Michael Laudrup and John Jensen.
Another of the men trying to buy the club - American billionaire Randy Lerner - appears to have rekindled his interest, albeit only 'to some extent'.
The Cleveland Browns owner admitted there was still a faint prospect of him taking over at Villa Park, saying: "There is nothing right now. I am interested to some extent - there are opportunities - but nothing more. Right now, my concern is if I put myself in a position where I speak clearly on it, I don't want to be misleading."
Lerner had talks with Ellis last week but appeared to pull out of the running as several other consortia prepared bids in the region of #60 million.