Port Vale are planning for next season without Nathan Smith as the 24 year old weighs up his options.
Vale boss John Askey has revealed Smith has had interest from two Championship clubs as the central defender waits to see what firm offers he will get now he is out of contract.
Askey hasn’t completely ruled out Smith accepting his long-term contract offer at Vale, but says he has to line up replacements so he isn’t caught out if Smith goes.
The manager has praised the home grown defender for being open without him about the situation.
Askey told BBC Radio Stoke’s Lee Blakeman there had been interest from the Championship and also League One. But he believes the defender could prefer to stay at Vale rather than a League One move.
He added: “I think he is just weighing up his options, which you can understand at 24. He has been at the Vale since he has been 15 or 16 and I suppose he just wants to see what is out there and try to prove himself at a higher level.
“We would have loved him to have stayed, and we think if he did stay then, as a football club, he could end up playing at a higher level.
“It is a shame but we will see how it pans out.”
The manager was asked if he is resigned to losing Smith.
He said: “Yes, I think that is what my mindset is, that we are going to lose him and have to look around to try to get a replacement. I don’t want to be waiting and waiting and then Nathan signs somewhere and we haven’t got somebody lined up.
“So it is important that obviously we get a replacement in.”
However, that doesn’t mean that the door is completely closed.
The manager explained: “Until he signs for somebody I think there is still a chance but we can’t just sit around waiting for Nathan. There are going to be a lot of players out of contract and hopefully we can get somebody who can do a similar job as Nathan has done for us.”