Adrian Boothroyd today revealed he hopes to keep Ashley Young at Watford on loan for the rest of the season if he is forced to sell the forward later this month.
The Hornets accepted a bid worth up to £9.65million from West Ham for Young earlier this week, only for the England Under-21 international to reject the chance to move to Upton Park.
Tottenham and Aston Villa have seen offers rejected Young, 21, and could return with improved propositions, but manager Boothroyd is eyeing a deal which would allow Watford to keep Young on loan for the remainder of the campaign as they attempt to survive in the Barclays Premiership.
'I would rather have cash, players and Ashley - until the end of the season,' said Boothroyd. 'There are no buts - that is what I would like.
'I am a realist - some of the time - and I have to accept that it might not happen.
'But we will have to see what comes in.
'The best way to do it is to try to have your cake and eat it. Get some money, keep your best players, work things out and stay in this league.
'That is the plan.
'I think Ashley will be here in February, but it is difficult for me to look into the future and know what will happen.'
Young is thought to favour a move to Spurs, but the White Hart Lane club appear reluctant to offer the same cash deal West Ham put on the table.
Watford would have been interested in a cash-plus-players deal involving Tottenham duo Wayne Routledge and Calum Davenport, but neither player was keen to move to Vicarage Road.
It is a similar story for Villa, who are keen on Young but have so far baulked at the elevated asking price.
'Ashley knows what he wants from his life and from his career, and he obviously did not think [West Ham] was the place to get what he wanted,' continued the 35-year-old Boothroyd.
'At the moment, I have a player who wants to stay - even though you do not know what is around the corner.
'It is good that he thinks so much of Watford that he wants to stay until a better offer or a bigger club, in his eyes, comes in.
'Do I think there is that club? Yes, of course there is. Ashley knows my best-case scenario, and I know his.
'Players who come here do not come as an end product. They come to develop and to go on to bigger things, because this is a breeding ground for talent.'
Many Watford fans were disappointed to see the club accept a bid from West Ham, who, like Watford are fighting for survival in the top flight.
But Boothroyd insisted Watford's status as the smallest club in the Premiership left them no option but to agree to the offer.
He added: 'Some fans might find it a little strange, and I can understand that.
'But this club is the smallest club in the Premiership, and it was not even the biggest in the Championship.
'We do not want to get into financial problems, as we have in the past.'
Boothroyd, who hopes to sign three more players before the transfer window closes, also admitted the deal to sign Collins John from Fulham appears dead.
The Hornets had a £3.25m bid for John accepted, but their likely relegation means the Dutchman does not want to join them.