Ross County manager John Hughes is confident Ross Stewart will remain until the end of the season unless the Staggies receive a significant six-figure fee.
Forward Stewart looks certain to leave when his contract runs out in the summer, having failed to agree terms on a new deal at Victoria Park.
A number of clubs both sides of the border have been linked with Stewart, including Premiership rivals Aberdeen and Dundee United, along with English sides MK Dons, Shrewsbury Town, Fleetwood and Rotherham.
Hughes insists County are under no pressure to sell during the January transfer window and senses Stewart, who joined from St Mirren in 2018, is keen to help the Dingwall club in their bid for Premiership survival.
Hughes says the only way that will change is if County receive a sizeable bid, and he said: “At no point has the chairman said to me to bring in a few new players Ross has to go.
“I have had no complaints about Ross as he leads from the front. He said to me what will be, will be.
“I spoke to him and I have tried to give him some advice. It is evident he won’t be here next year, but I have a real feeling coming from him that he wants to be part of keeping this club in the Premiership.
“I think it would be his way of thanking the club for everything they have done for him over the last few years. He is very grateful for the stage the club has given him.
“He seems quite happy to be here the rest of the season, as would we be. But if a club comes in with a bid of £500,000 then we have a decision to make.”
Stewart has been sidelined with a hamstring injury he suffered in Hughes’ first game in charge against Celtic last month, however, Hughes says he will be available for tomorrow’s match against Rangers at Ibrox.
Hughes is looking forward to working with the 24-year-old, adding: “Ross is available for the weekend. He was close last week, but we felt we should wait a bit longer. It is my decision do I start him or does he come off the bench.
“He is a very valuable asset to the club. I haven’t seen much of him as my first game he came off with a hamstring injury. In the last few weeks in training, he has shown how good a player he is.
“People see him and think he is just a big target man, but he is a great footballer.
“He can look after the ball, his touch is very good and he has an eye for goal.
“Ross can play on the left or through the middle, which is great.”
Hughes believes the challenge of facing runaway league leaders Rangers will provide him with a telling insight into his recently inherited squad, with the Staggies boss still aiming to add to his squad.
He added: “One thing that will happen is I’ll get a lot of answers after the game about my team.
“It’s probably the biggest stage we have been on since I’ve come here.
“When a new manager comes in, a lot of players get a new lease of life.
“I think that has been the case, but I’m also saying – ‘can they keep that going consistently?’
“When the window shuts and if they look about and see there is no real competition for places, do they go back to not being what I’m expecting? It’s my job to keep them at it.
“That’s why I’m still looking to bring one or two in, because if it’s not these guys that are doing that consistently week-in, week-out, it will be someone else.
“Sometimes it’s not nice, but it’s nothing personal, it’s just the process of football.”