Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish has dismissed reports that he could sell leading striker Darren Bent during the January transfer window.
Bent has scored 14 goals in 31 appearances for Villa since becoming the club's record signing from Sunderland at the start of the year.
His recent absence from the 2-0 home defeat by Liverpool prompted reports of a row with McLeish, which has been denied, while Bent has insisted he is committed to the club.
Speculation has claimed that McLeish could part with the England international to generate transfer funds for next month, but the Villa boss feels such a move would send out the wrong message.
"A striker of Darren's ability would be difficult to replace," said McLeish.
"His goals last season were a vital part of Villa's season in terms of keeping them up. I wouldn't think anybody can afford Darren. I wouldn't think so.
"It would send out the wrong message unless we went out and signed Luis Suarez or something. Even suspended for eight games, I'd have him."
The former Birmingham City boss knows from experience just how crucial it is to have a proven goalscorer.
He added: "I wouldn't be tempted to lose any of the strikers. That was something that badly affected Birmingham City last year.
"We lost Nikola Zigic after the Carling Cup final and Obafemi Martins breaking his leg was a massive blow to that club. People say that strikers make the difference in this league."
McLeish continued: "I've always said, since the start of the season, that we have got to trade carefully.
"It is very much a kind of juggling of the balls at the moment. That means I can't just go into the market without there being a kind of balance.
"I'm not willing to sell anybody at the moment, but you just don't know what will happen."