Birmingham City defender Matthew Upson could be leaving after rejecting a new contract offer from the club and breaking off negotiations.
Manager Steve Bruce is anxious to secure the 26-year-old England international on a five-year contract and the club initiated talks with Upson and his agent Barry Nevill earlier this year.
But Nevill last night told The Birmingham Post that Upson has ended discussions with Blues and wants to assess his options this summer after two-and-a-half seasons at St Andrew?s.
Nevill said: ?We did speak to the club about a new contract but Matt decided he didn?t want to accept it.
?Matt is still contracted to Birmingham and he has enjoyed his time at the club, but he?s quite happy to let things carry on and see what happens.
?We are not talking to Birmingham about a new contract at the moment and we haven?t got any plans to.?
Upson, who is valued at about #5 million, still has another year left on his contract and there is the option of a further 12 months should the club wish. Hence his services are fixed for the forseeable future.
But with Premiership rivals such as Liverpool and Middlesbrough reportedly expressing an interest in Upson, he may view leaving St Andrew?s as a chance to enhance his prospects of being selected to the England squad for next year?s World Cup.
The defender, who has six caps, faces stiff competition to even make Sven-Goran Eriksson?s squad with Rio Ferdinand, Sol Campbell, John Terry, Jamie Carragher, Zat Knight and Ledley King all vying for four spots.
Upson, who is intelligent and articulate, is aware of this and has stated in the past that his contemporaries who are playing in Europe regularly with their clubs have the best chance of being called up by England - a factor Nevill naturally reiterated yesterday.
He added: ?Matt does need to be playing European football really with his club side if he is to make any headway internationally.?
Blues, who finished 12th in the league last term, have offered Upson a significant wage increase to put him on a par with the club?s top earn-ers like Muzzy Izzet on #25,000 a week - but they are unable to offer European football next season.
Although Upson is in the England frame - he pulled out of the recent trip to America to undergo a double hernia operation - it is hard to imagine him featuring ahead of Terry, Ferdinand and Carragher, who has just won rave reviews for his role in helping Liverpool win the Champions? League.
If the defender does indeed want to quit St Andrew?s, it will be a test of Birmingham?s Premiership ambitions as to whether they can persuade him to stay because Blues have largely had their own way in the transfer market in the last three years.
They have managed to sign a lot of their primary transfer targets in the past.
With the exception of Robbie Savage, no big stars have left the club against their wishes.
Birmingham found out to their cost the void left by the influential Savage, however, and will be loath to lose Upson too.
Particularly as his defensive partner Kenny Cunningham turns 34 later this month, and reserve team defender Martin Taylor, signed from Blackburn Rovers in January 2004 for #1.25 million, has thus far shown little to justify his price tag.