David Gold has expressed his confidence that Birmingham City will not lose Matthew Upson when the transfer window opens in January but accepts a longer-term relationship between club and star defender will rely on winning promotion this season.
The St Andrew's chairman also claimed that if Birmingham do return to the Premiership at the first time of asking the 27-year-old could regain his place in the England squad in less than a year.
That seems a long way off at the moment with Upson fighting his way back from a serious Achilles injury that ended his last season in February and has prevented him from starting the current campaign.
But with his comeback imminent - he was pencilled in for a reserve team game this week only to withdraw with an unrelated strain - speculation will build about a player who has played seven times for his country and whose early development was spent with Arsenal.
Upson has arguably been Steve Bruce's best signing for City and his loss was acutely felt as his team-mates were relegated from the top flight keeping just five clean sheets in their final 15 league matches.
Ironically, that injury probably allowed Bruce to retain his top centre-back given that it put off the host of suitors with whom he was linked and allowed Birmingham to invoke a two-year option in his contract.
However, a number of Premiership clubs will have their eyes on Upson in the New Year and Bruce will need his side to be in a commanding position in the Championship to keep Upson onside.
"Matthew Upson is a Premiership player," admitted Gold. "We will be doing everything we can to keep Matthew because this is such an important season and he could be the difference to us.
"That said, I would be optimistic that we can hold on to him until at least the end of the season and then if we get promoted we are in a good position to sit down and talk with him.
"He wants to be in the Premiership and if we can take him there we stand a good chance of holding on to him," he said.
Upson's existing deal has slightly more than 18 months left to run but if Birmingham do not climb back to the top table there is little chance he will want to see it out.
He has been linked with Liverpool and Newcastle United in the past and, were he to express his desire to leave, would no doubt interest the latter as well as several other Premiership clubs.
And Gold is aware that the loss of Upson would not go down well with Birmingham's supporters who were stung by the sale of Jermaine Pennant.
"It is important that we keep him because of the message it would send out," he admitted.
"Matthew can still play for England within 12 months but we have to be in the Premiership for him to do that and hopefully he sees our determination and intent.
"Hopefully by the time we have to start making decisions we are six or seven points clear and he sees that and wants to see it through. But the situation will unravel on a week by week basis."
Meanwhile Birmingham have been given a boost with news that striker Nicklas Bendtner's knee injury is not as serious as was first feared.
The Danish international, on loan from Arsenal, sustained the injury against Northern Ireland during Saturday's Euro 2008 qualifier.
Initially it was thought the 18-year-old may have completely torn his medial ligament, but scans have revealed the damage is not serious, and the player could be back in action within two weeks.