Stuart Pearce has revealed he is prepared to block Sylvain Distin's departure from Manchester City.
The indications are Distin is going to snub a £4.5million move to Middlesbrough anyway after failing, so far, to agree personal terms with the Teesside outfit.
However, even though the Blues' money men are not keen for Distin to enter the final year of his present contract without reaching agreement over an extension, Pearce knows with the transfer window closing on August 31 his chances of finding a replacement are receding fast.
'The nearer it gets to the window being shut and the less time I have to find a replacement, the more likely it is that I will turn round and say `we are not going to do business',' said Pearce.
'Sylvain has never said he is desperate to get away. He is a very honest and open-minded lad and probably, if he had not been in the last year of his contract, we would not have given him the opportunity to speak to Middlesbrough.
'If Sylvain decides he wants to stay with us at this moment in time, I would be delighted with that.'
Distin is expected to play against Portsmouth tomorrow, while new goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson may make his debut if he comes through a rigorous training session today after missing Sunday's defeat to Chelsea with an ankle injury.
Pearce confirmed veteran striker Andy Cole will not be considered until after next month's international break, although Dietmar Hamann has not yet been completely ruled out for either tomorrow or Saturday's televised clash with Arsenal.
'We have got Didi back on the training pitch,' said Pearce. 'The bruising he suffered on the pre-season tour in China was quite bad but we will see how it goes.'