Whenever Paul Merson talks about his leading scorer Matty Fryatt, he does so with the tone of a condemned man who knows his happiness will be short-lived.
The Walsall manager has in his possession, and in his team, one of the most promising young strikers outside of the Premiership. A teenager who ended last month's Uefa Under-19 European Championships as the competition's top scorer.
Fryatt's heroics for England have attracted the avaricious eyes of some of football's bigger fish and speculation mounts that Merson and his minnows will soon have to part company with their goalscoring pearl.
The Nuneaton-born forward has already been linked with Aston Villa, West Ham and Sunderland and despite the fact he has slapped a £1 million price tag on Fryatt, Merson is aware that their relationship exists on borrowed time.
"I have not had any offers - none at all," Merson said. "But if he starts off for us the way he has been going for England then it won't be very long. I am very surprised he hasn't gone.
"I hope we can get to the end of the season with him but you just don't know. If he does well for us and a team is struggling, may be they would go out and buy someone.
" Sunderland have not scored in the pre-season and I know Big Mick [McCarthy] was interested in him last season . He rang me a couple of times to inquire about him.
"If he had come and watched him against Aston Villa the other day then I am sure he would have come and taken him."
Fryatt has only been back at the Bescot Stadium for a week, after starring in his country's run to the finals of the Belfast tournament.
His participation in preseason training has been limited to play in Tuesday night's loss to Villa and he is likely to feature in, if not start, the Saddlers first game of the season at Rotherham tomorrow.
After such an active summer there is a concern that Fryatt's 19-year-old body will not last a full season without a break. Merson is mindful that he has to manage the situation and watch for signs of both physical and mental fatigue.
"We have been playing him in games but it is not the mental strain of playing for England. That's where it tires you, the mental side not the football so much.
"Representing your country you can't make mistakes. Their training is completely different. Here if you have a kick and fall over the ball all the lads will have a laugh with you but you don't want to embarrass yourself with your country so you are concentrating 24/7. That side of it is very draining."
And then of course there's the head-strain of the nation's media telling him his future lies elsewhere. Merson, a former prodigy in his own right, knows what that's like.
"I would be surprised if the speculation didn't affect him," he admitted. "I had it when I was young - of course it affects you. You read it in the paper and think 'I wonder what I would get there'.
"But he is a level-headed lad. One of the most levelheaded I have ever seen. He is quiet, not a Jack the Lad and he wants to be a footballer. He knows if he does well the money will follow."
As things stand Fryatt is not certain to begin the game at Millmoor. Towards the end of last term Merson happened upon a 4-5-1 formation, which he utilised away from home, and Walsall then went on to win their last five matches.
He will retain that strategy against Mick Harford's men meaning a direct choice between Fryatt and the more robust Jorge Leitao. Not playing Fryatt might be one way of repelling the sharks.