Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has admitted he can give no guarantees over Yohan Cabaye's future at the club.
The 28-year-old France international was the subject of a rejected £14million bid from Paris St Germain on Sunday, and the Magpies were bracing themselves for a second approach on Monday afternoon with less than five days of the January transfer window still to run.
Pardew has no desire to sell the former Lille player, who has become a central character in his team, but having lost striker Andy Carroll to Liverpool three years ago, knows a bumper offer could see matters taken out of his hands.
Asked if he was confident Cabaye would remain a Newcastle player after Friday's 11pm deadline passed, he said: "You are talking to someone who lost Andy Carroll with eight hours to go, so am I confident?
"No, I'm not confident, and I don't think any team not in a Champions League position or fighting for a Champions League position could be."
However, if PSG are to get their man, they will have to increase their offer substantially with Newcastle looking for in excess of £20million before they will even consider selling him.
Pardew said: "We know we have got a club interested in Cabaye, a very wealthy club and a powerful club, and we are conscious of that.
"We are doing our best to protect Newcastle."
Newcastle currently lie in eighth place in the Barclays Premier League table ahead of Tuesday night's trip to Norwich and, barring an unlikely charge into the top four over the next four months, are unlikely to be able to offer Cabaye, or indeed any other player, Champions League football next season.
However, Pardew insists that is eminently preferable than the position in which he found himself back in January 2011 when leading scorer Carroll was sold without a replacement being brought in and with top-flight survival far from assured.
He said: "Well, you are talking to a manager who actually when he lost Andy Carroll, lost a massive part of a team that wasn't safe. We didn't have 36 points when we lost Andy Carroll, so it was a hell of a blow.
"I still maintain that was one of my best periods as a manager at this football club, getting us safe that year, so in terms of my mentality, I'm just strong about it.
"I am strong whatever happens. I am the manager and I have got to deal with it.
"I don't want him (Cabaye) to go. We have not indicated for one moment here from the owner down to any of my staff that we want him to go, not one iota."
The reality is that, given Newcastle's well-publicised model, should PSG match Ashley's valuation, they are likely to get their man, a move which would be far from popular on Tyneside.
However, that will only happen at the right price, and with the gap being plugged immediately.
Pardew said: "We would need to bring somebody in, for sure. You can't lose a player of that quality and not replace him.
"But we are going to need some time to do that. We have informed the club that's interested and the agents of the player that we are very conscious of that."
In the meantime, Pardew fully expects Cabaye to line up alongside his team-mates at Carrow Road, something he did not do at Manchester City on the opening weekend of the season after reportedly going on strike when Arsenal's £10million offer for him was rebuffed.
Pardew, whose team also has Saturday's derby clash with Sunderland to which to look forward, said: "I'd like to think he has learned from that experience because I think he could have dealt with it better.
"I don't see a problem at Norwich, and obviously Sunderland doesn't matter because it is outside of the window. He will either be here or he won't."
In an ideal world for Pardew, the Magpies would win at Norwich, fend off the interest in Cabaye and land their own main January target, Borussia Monchengladbach striker Luuk de Jong, ahead of the Black Cats' visit to St James' Park, although the reverse would make for a very difficult week.
Pardew said with a smile: "Yes, of course, and that's Newcastle for you. I could say that every week I have been here, and I am sure it won't change."
Newcastle will head for Norfolk without striker Papiss Cisse, who has a back injury.
However, Pardew does not expect the Senegal international, who has been linked with moves to Germany, Turkey and the Middle East amongst other options, to leave Tyneside this month and is hopeful of adding to the squad.
He said: "We are hoping to sign a player outside the Cabaye situation for the second half of the season, and we are getting a little bit closer to that, on a positive side."