Aberdeen or Hearts will need to come up with an offer St Johnstone “can’t refuse” to get Matty Kennedy out of McDiarmid Park this month, according to Perth boss Tommy Wright.
The Tynecastle club have joined the Dons in officially registering an interest in Kennedy.
At this stage both are discussing a pre-contract summer move with the former Kilmarnock man but both would also be keen to snap him up in this transfer window.
To persuade Saints to part with their most dangerous attacker while they are involved in a relegation battle will not be easy, though.
“Our position is clear,” said Wright. “Although Matty is in the last six months of his contract and free to sign for someone else, we don’t want to lose him.
“I took a call from Hearts to say that Daniel Stendel wants him and I know he’s close to agreeing a deal with Aberdeen.
“I don’t know what stage Hearts are at. They spoke to him last week but only made us aware over the weekend.
“From my point of view it’s pretty clear – I don’t want him to leave in this window.
“I have told the club this and where we are is that someone will have to make an offer we can’t refuse for it to happen this month.
“I expect both clubs will want him straight away, so it will be up to them so change our minds.
“We are financially sound. We don’t need to take anyone’s money unless it suits us.”
Wright insisted that he would have no concerns about Kennedy’s attitude should he sign a pre-contract elsewhere but stay in Perth until the end of the campaign.
“I know Matty very well,” he said. “He’s competitive and hates losing so he won’t be a problem staying here.
“We have had other players who have signed elsewhere and stayed before and it worked out.
“Liam Craig played some of the best football he has for the club after he’d made his mind up to go to Hibs.
“Once he’d done that a weight was off his shoulders and he got on with playing.
“So it’s not down to us wanting to sell him. We don’t.
“It will be down to how much whoever he decides to sign for really wants him in this window.
“It could be hard cash or it could be cash and players, who knows? That’s not something I can decide on behalf of other clubs.
“But the big thing here is that we don’t need to cash in. The money is in the bank here for that rainy day, so it needs to be something which suits us.
“There is no panic from our point of view. I want Matty here until the summer and if he is, I’ll be happy.”
Saints haven’t given up all hope of Kennedy staying but Wright’s realism hasn’t changed.
“We have made him an improved offer but I don’t think that’s going to be enough,” he said.
“As I said last week, our time to sign him up again was in January last year.
“So he will go in the summer. It’s just a case of waiting to see who he’ll join.”
Meanwhile, Wright confirmed that Inverness Caley Thistle right-back Shaun Rooney is a pre-contract target.
He said: “We always look at players coming out of contract who we think can do a job.
“Shaun Rooney is one we have put a letter in about because we would like to speak to him.
“I have spoken to John Robertson as well and told him we plan to speak to him.
“It’s for the summer, though. Nothing will happen in this window.
“He is one of a few players in a similar situation we are looking at for next season.”
The Saints players have now been back in training for the best part of a week.
“The weather caused us a bit of a problem because we had to cancel a bounce game we had arranged,” Wright reported.
“But we still got a lot of work into the players and have a full week to get ready for the Morton game.”