Aston Villa's mission to get Newcastle United's James Milner on the cheap looks doomed to failure - thanks to the injury that sent England striker Michael Owen home early from the World Cup.
Since Owen's knee injury left Newcastle with just two fit strikers, manager Glenn Roeder has had a fresh think about Milner, the adaptable young winger who starred on loan at Villa Park last season until being struck down by a debilitating mystery virus.
Milner has re-emerged into first team plans as a potential stand-in striker at St James' Park since Owen's knee injury. Following the retirement of Alan Shearer and the departure of the out-of-contract Michael Chopra to Cardiff City, Roeder is has only Albert Luque and Shola Ameobi as fit strikers.
Villa manager David O'Leary is now kicking himself that the club's board did not take up his suggestion to bring in Milner when they had the chance at the end of last season.
Despite O'Leary having been told he could have Milner for #3 million, Villa offered only half that. On the day Milner reports back for pre-season training at Newcastle, it looks increasingly like they might have missed their chance.
"James Milner will not be going to Aston Villa," insisted Roeder. "I am looking forward to working with him. I have met him to talk over the summer and have enjoyed his company. And the great thing about James is that he is very versatile.
"He can play wide right or wide left or through the middle in the case of an emergency. He is an offensive player who has excellent energy.
"He did very well at Aston Villa and that will have done him the world of good, with a year's experience of Premier-ship football under his belt."
Admittedly, Roeder is working under the same tight financial constraints as O'Leary, knowing that he must sell before he can buy. But until there any takers for any of O'Leary's under-achieving Villa squad to get the ball really rolling, Milner will stay put.
The only other factor in Villa's favour is that the much-admired Milner would prefer the guarantee of a regular berth on the right side of Villa's midfield - rather than being asked to compete for a place on Tyneside.
Newcastle's two wide players, Charles N'Zogbia and Nolberto Solano are both ahead of him. And, although Roeder has dismissed reports linking the Toon with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Milner will only be considered as a makeshift striker.
"His biggest concern is not getting first-team football," said Roeder. "And that is what you want to see in a player. Pressure to play well can be a great motivator. There is nothing better than competition for places."