Martin O'Neill has insisted he would love to keep Stephane Sessegnon at Sunderland but knows it would be foolish to deliver a message ruling out a departure.
Sessegnon has been linked with a move away from the Stadium of Light after enjoying a tremendous finish to last season, but so far it is understood that the Black Cats have not received a serious enquiry.
O'Neill would be delighted for that situation to remain the same until the transfer window closes at the end of the month, but recognises that there is always the chance that an offer will come in that is too good to turn down.
"We would very much like to keep Stephane - any manager would want to keep him," O'Neill said in The Journal.
"He gives us that extra creativity and he is very important to us so I would genuinely like to keep him.
"I would love to give a 'hands-off' message but I wish it was as easy as that.
"If I was to say 'You cannot touch him' then I might have to come back here two days later and say 'sorry'.
"That would be all bravado speak and then he's gone, so I couldn't give that sort of message."
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