ALBION boss Oscar Garcia says he cannot guarantee Liam Bridcutt will not be sold to Sunderland during the January transfer window.
Chairman Tony Bloom has stood firm so far, turning down a £2 million bid from Sunderland for the midfielder and a transfer request he submitted last week.
Albion’s midfield options were reduced yesterday when Andrew Crofts was ruled out for the rest of the season with a ruptured cruciate ligament suffered in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Birmingham.
But Crofts’ absence is unlikely to impact on Bridcutt’s future at the club.
A groin injury ruled Bridcutt out of Saturday’s game as they moved into sixth place, the first time they have been in a play-off spot in the Championship this season.
Oscar, asked whether he could offer assurances about Bridcutt staying, said: “I don’t think anybody can say that about any player, maybe Messi or Ronaldo, but all the other players have a price.
“But we want to keep him because he is one of our main players. He’s carrying a groin injury and he wasn’t 100%.”
Albion’s worst fears over Crofts were confirmed by a scan yesterday.
The six-goal midfielder stayed down after an innocuous attempt to tackle Birmingham substitute Reece Brown. He will undergo surgery this week with the target of being fully operational in time for pre-season in July.
Oscar, pursuing a striker to compensate for losing Ashley Barnes to Burnley, has now added a replacement for Crofts to his January shopping list.
The Seagulls’ head coach said: “I am very sad for him because he has been helping us a lot.
“He had a real desire to play all season because he didn’t play so much last season. He’s really been enjoying the training sessions and the games.”