Fulham boss Mark Hughes insists Mark Schwarzer’s sale is not a "foregone conclusion" after hinting his move to Arsenal may not materialise.
The Cottagers number one, who has been nursing a back injury, has been the subject of Arsenal’s attention this summer, but two £2million bids from the Gunners have already been rejected.
David Stockdale has impressed in place of Schwarzer between the sticks in Fulham’s two opening Premier League games, keeping a clean sheet at Bolton in their curtain-raiser before frustrating Manchester United in a 2-2 draw at Craven Cottage on Sunday.
But while pleased with the younger shot-stopper’s display, Hughes is adamant the 37-year-old Australia international’s move to Arsenal is not set in stone.
"It’s not a foregone conclusion that Mark will leave," Hughes told the Guardian.
"We’re all aware of Arsenal’s interest. It’s not a surprise because he’s an outstanding goalkeeper and they obviously feel they have an issue with their own goalkeeper."
Stockdale, making only his third start in the top flight, produced a solid performance against United, saving a Nani penalty three minutes from time which paved the way for Brede Hangeland’s late strike following his earlier own goal.
But despite the 25-year-old former Darlington player’s strong start to the campaign, Hughes admits he is seeking the security of a more experienced shot-stopper.
"Stockdale has done very well and is a good young keeper," added Hughes.
"We’ve been impressed with what we’ve seen since we’ve been here, and he’s arguably been the star man in both games.
"He’s been outstanding and, had this game gone to 3-1, it would have been United’s.
"We’re pleased with what he’s producing at the moment but it’s always difficult for young keepers. They get by initially on adrenalin and enthusiasm, but can they keep it up over time? It’s a long season and you’ve got to be careful with them."
Stockdale, meanwhile, is refusing to get carried away following his good work so far this season.
"That’s another showing I can go to the manager with and say: ‘There you go. That’s what I can do,’" said Stockdale.
"I was just trying to get the lads out of the deep muck. It’s hard enough trying to dislodge Mark Schwarzer at the best of times but I’ll just take it day by day now and see what happens."