West Brom boss Alan Pardew has admitted for the first time he has made plans for life without Jonny Evans.
The defender could leave next month and Pardew concedes the Premier League strugglers need to be prepared for every possibility.
Leicester, Arsenal and Manchester City had bids rejected for £30million-rated Evans in the summer and Manchester United have been linked with a move for the Northern Ireland international, who left Old Trafford in 2015.
Pardew said: “I have always thought that you would be slightly naive in your job if you didn’t try to cover all the barriers here, the options that might happen and might not happen. So there is a scenario that Jonny Evans might move. For sure I have looked at that.
“There is a scenario that Jonny doesn’t move. There is a scenario that someone else moves. What happens if we get another injury to let’s say Chris Brunt, then I have him, (James) Morrison and (Nacer) Chadli missing, how is that going to work?
“I have to cover all those and with (technical director) Nicky Hammond, someone I know well and who is brilliant at his job, I am pretty sure we have it all covered. If we do some business in January we will be doing it for the right reasons.”
Albion host Arsenal on Sunday sitting second bottom of the Premier League and have had no early bids or contact for captain Evans, whose contract expires in 18 months.
Virgil van Dijk’s £75million move to Liverpool from Southampton has already distorted the market but Pardew believes Evans ranks as one of the division’s best defenders.
Asked about Evans’ value, he said: “That is a difficult one, it sometimes come down to contract length and the safeguards you have on someone’s contract.
“If I look at defenders and compare Jonny with central defenders in the Premier League, he is right up there.”