Barnsley head coach Paul Heckingbottom expects a bidding war for Alfie Mawson but is not resigned to losing the defender just yet.
Speculation surrounding the 22-year-old’s future has been a hot topic, with numerous clubs interested in securing Mawson’s services as the Reds gear up for a South Yorkshire derby against Rotherham tomorrow.
Owner Patrick Cryne previously gave Heckingbottom assurances that the club’s best players would not be sold, but Sunderland’s interest could be too good to turn down - with Wolves also in for the centre-back.
The club are not desperate for the cash after landing a significant windfall from John Stones’ move to Manchester City earlier this month.
Mawson’s departure could prove troublesome for Heckingbottom if he cannot find himself a replacement, permanently or on loan, by the end of the transfer window.
The Reds are unable to recall Lewin Nyatanga from his loan spell at Northampton due to a new rule from the FA this season.
Heckingbottom would be left with three senior centre-backs in the squad with Marc Roberts, Angus MacDonald and Jack Cowgill.
MacDonald has never playing above League Two and youngster Cowgill has featured just twice in League One.
“We’ve not accepted a bid yet and whether we do or not depends on the bid,” revealed Heckingbottom.
“There are a few clubs involved so I think at the minute it’s about who’s going to bid the most.
“It’s not just us trying to get value for Alfie, it’s about getting one in who we think can play as well as him now or potentially in the future. He’s a top defender and they cost a lot of money.
“Patrick hasn’t come to me and said ‘If it’s this figure, he goes’ so he could still be here.”
Striker Sam Winnall has returned quicker than expected from his opening-day hamstring injury and will feature against the Millers, but Sessi D’Almeida has been ruled out for the season with a knee injury.
Heckingbottom’s side take on Rotherham for the first time in the second tier since 2001.
A Millers fan has promised to run naked through the town centre if the Reds finish above his team this season, and Heckingbottom joked: “That’s an added incentive then!
“We probably see each other as competitors as we’re both looking to strengthen and stay in this division.
“They had a great result against Brentford last week. They worked their socks off and got a clean sheet as well, so it’ll be tough for us.”