Middlesbrough's resolve to hang on to midfielder Stewart Downing will be tested to the full on Monday when he is expected to hand in a written transfer request.
It is understood that the 24-year-old will ask to leave his hometown club following strong interest from Tottenham Hotspur.
Boro chief executive Keith Lamb has already dismissed a bid - thought to be in the region of £6million - from the White Hart Lane outfit as ''derisory'', while manager Gareth Southgate has repeatedly insisted the England international is simply not for sale.
However, Downing's decision to submit a transfer request could force their hand with Southgate admitting when striker Ayegbeni Yakubu made it clear his future lay away from the Riverside Stadium that there was no point in hanging on to players who did not want to be there.
On Saturday Southgate claimed Downing has remained unaffected by speculation over his future after his starring role in the FA Cup victory over Barrow.
The Boro boss said: ''Stewart played in the middle of the park for us on Monday night (at Manchester United) and I think it has given him something else to focus on. It has given him a freshness and I think it gave us a bit more creativity.''
Southgate is under no pressure to sell, although he had made no secret of the fact that he will have to raise his own funds if he wants to buy this month.
Boro value Downing at closer to the £15million mark but it remains to be seen whether or not Spurs, who have been admirers for several years, are prepared to go to anywhere near what would be a record transfer fee received by the Teessiders.
Southgate went on to reveal he is no fan of the transfer window, and it is no surprise given his lack of funds and the constant speculation over futures of the likes of Downing and Turkish striker Tuncay Sanli.
He added: ''I think it's a bit of a nonsense the way it is. It's a distraction for the players - that's the issue. Agents are in the game to make money and they don't make money unless players sign new contracts or move.
''But in the middle of the transfer window - which I believe is everything that is wrong about the game - we saw today everything that is right about the game.
''We've seen a team from a lower division come and they've ridden their luck and it's been a healthy football day and the other side of it for me is rubbish.''
Downing signed a new five-year contract on February last year, but it is understood he has become increasingly unsettled in recent months and is now ready to test himself away from the club where he has become the highest-profile graduate of a productive academy.
The local boy has won 21 senior England caps to date, the last of them in the 2-1 win over Germany in Berlin in November, a game which earned him impressive reviews.
In England Under-21 international Adam Johnson, Boro at least have a ready made replacement for Downing, although the 21-year-old has had to wait patiently in line behind the older man and has much less experience at senior level.
Boro currently lie in 17th place in the Premier League, ahead of Stoke inside the relegation zone only on goal difference.
Reports have also linked Tuncay with Chelsea and Mido with Wigan, although it is Downing's situation which now appears to be reaching a head.
On the field, there was some welcome relief from transfer speculation as Southgate's troops edged Barrow 2-1.
Brazilian £12.5million man Alves fired Boro ahead in the 23rd minute after being put through by a lofted ball from Downing, then headed home in the 62nd minute to apparently make the game safe.
Alves, Downing, Johnson and Marvin Emnes were all denied the chance to give the home side a landslide victory by the superb performance of on-loan Alan Martin in the Blue Square Premier strugglers' goal.
And Barrow succeeded in making it a frantic final 10 minutes when Steve McNulty headed a Mark Boyd corner into the path of Jason Walker, who nodded past home keeper Brad Jones.
Barrow co-manager Dave Bayliss hailed the performance of his side and in particular keeper Martin, whom he revealed had only agreed to extend his loan spell from Leeds on Thursday.
Bayliss said: ''Alan has been with us for three months and he's been fantastic. He's kept us in games and we knew he had to play well to come here and get something. The lad's got a really big future.''
But Barrow's fine performance in front of 7,000 fans was marred by a serious injury to midfielder Mike Pearson, who suffered a double leg break in a second-half challenge by Emnes.
Bayliss added: ''It's been a great day and that has put a massive dent in it. It's a double break and he will stay in hospital in Middlesbrough overnight. We're gutted for him.''
Victory provided some welcome relief for Southgate after their recent travails although he admitted his side's inability to kill off the non-league side remained a source of irritation.
But one bright spot was the form of the recently-recalled Alves, who ought to have at least competed his hat-trick. Southgate added: ''I asked him to do a job and he dug in for the team.
''There were lots of bright spots and we've learned some good lessons to take forward because we're not ruthless enough in either box at the moment and that's what we need to win matches.''