Birmingham City chairman David Gold says he will be "stunned" if Andrew Johnson is at relegated Crystal Palace at the start of next season.
But he is refusing to say whether Blues will join the expected chase for the recently- capped England striker.
Blues have again been linked with a move to bring their former player back to St Andrew's three years after they let him go for a song.
Blues are already seeking to bring Mikael Forssell back on a year's loan and are a long way down the line to completing a permanent deal for Walter Pandiani. Gold would only admit to being a potentially interested party in Johnson.
He said: "Andrew would be the sort of exciting player we want to come to Birmingham City. But you've got to imagine that there will be a lot of other Premiership clubs interested in him. And what seems certain to me is that he'll want to play in the Premiership.
"I'm aware that he's said he won't leave Palace, and kissing the badge and all that is all very romantic. But the fact is he's an England player, and he needs to be in the Premiership. When was the last time England had a player who played for a club outside the top flight? Steve Bull?
"Quite frankly, I'll be stunned if 'AJ' is still at Palace in August.
"All I can say for the moment is that our manager is on holiday at the moment. And we are not due to sit down and talk to him for another fortnight. But when we do I'm sure AJ's name will crop up in conversation like any top striker."
The one factor that does suggest a potential deal could be done is that Blues manager Steve Bruce has said he made a mistake by letting Johnson leave on the cheap as the makeweight in an exchange deal for Clinton Morrison.
After scoring 32 goals in Palace's promotion campaign two seasons ago, Johnson scored 22 this time round.
Three of Johnson's goals came in helping to secure a win double over Blues. He said: "When I left Birmingham I always felt deep down like I had a point to prove whether it was to Steve Bruce, Clinton or myself. I just always wanted to go out, do well and show it was his mistake and not mine. And I'd like to think I've done that."
Having made his England debut in the February friendly with Holland, Johnson is in the squad for the two-match trip to the United States.
While his likely suitors will watch his performances with interest, Palace have not been slow to point out that 24-yearold Johnson has four seasons remaining on a five-year contract.
Johnson refutes the idea that staying with Palace might harm his international prospects. "I'm ambitious," he said. "I want to play for England. And of course being in the Championship might not give me as good a chance."