The transfer saga of Ryan Lloyd has dominated the Chester FC agenda this week.
The 22-year-old midfielder ended his loan spell from League One side Port Vale after the 3-0 loss at home to Solihull Moors on New Year's Day and it was hoped that an extended stay would be a mere formality.
But Steve Burr has thrown a spanner in the works after putting in a bid for Lloyd, a player who he signed on loan last season while boss of Chester.
We've tried to break down what's happening and what could happen.
How much have Southport offered?
There were rumours flying round on social media that their transfer bid, which has been accepted by Vale, could be as high as £25,000.
The Chronicle understands the true figure is considerably less than that. But whether it is £2,000 or £200,000, Chester aren't in the position to be paying transfer fees given their tight budget.
Why would he want to go there?
The Sandgrounders are fighting down the lower reaches of the National League but they have more financial clout than Chester at the moment, however galling it may be.
It would be a lengthy contract and some security for the future at a club where he already knows the manager. Southport are planning to go full-time next season and that could appeal.
So, that's that then?
No, not at all.
Lloyd has indicated it is very much his preference to stay with Chester.
The midfielder has become a key man under McCarthy and thrived in a central position, moreso that he did last year when put out wide on the left by Burr.
If a straight decision between the two was available and the same terms on offer, it is hard to imagine Lloyd choosing Haig Avenue.
What are Chester doing about it?
The end of his loan deal did not come as a shock to the Blues and they had long stated they would like to keep him at the Lookers Vauxhall Stadium.
But parent clubs don't usually extend deals well in advance of their expiry as they don't know what they will face when the time comes.
They could be looking to bring a player back into the fold or maximise the financial opportunities that any good form may bring.
The Blues are in discussions with the Valiants and Lloyd to try and sort a deal, and the possibility remains of him coming back to Chester on loan until the end of the season if he rejects Southport, but that would very much depend on Vale.
There is also the chance of signing Lloyd on a permanent deal, which is the preferred option of McCarthy.
Chester can be competitive with the wages on offer and the length of deal but, again, Southport's transfer offer makes them more attractive to Port Vale.
What has Jon McCarthy had to say about it?
Speaking to the Chronicle today, the Blues boss had this to say: "People are aware of the Ryan Lloyd situation. Southport are in and have made a bid to Port Vale and offered some money.
"We can't afford that and we can't afford to pay any money to have him so Southport have the box seat with Port Vale. But I think we are in control of where Ryan Lloyd the player would like to come, and hopefully that is the strongest draw.
"He'll speak to Southport, and he has the opportunity to that now, and they are in a better financial position than us at the moment.
"I have no problems with Ryan Lloyd. He has done everything properly throughout this and he would like to stay here and finish the project. There is no greed from him and he has acted honourably throughout, and if we never get another game from him he has been outstanding for us.
"He also knows how much I think of him and he knows what he has got from this football club and would like carry on playing here.
"We are doing everything we possibly can. Whether it is on loan until the end of the season or, in an ideal world, we could have a player of his quality here with us permanently.
"There isn't any criticism to be thrown at anybody, anywhere, whether it is at our board or at Lloydy. It is everybody doing their best to get a good player who is rightfully wanted and coveted by other players because of how well he has done."
Can't the club just stump up a few grand?
In a word, no.
The budget is the budget and if you are continually going to overstretch then it is pointless even having one.
The squad this season has been put together based on what the football club can afford, and financial prudence is at the heart of anything like this.
Until some money comes in from elsewhere, whether it be the sale of a key asset like Sam Hughes, some TV money or a decent run in the FA Trophy, then it is hard to imagine that position changing.
Will there be a decision by the end of the week?
There could be. It's in the best interest of all parties to have this resolved as soon as possible.McCarthy is very much hoping that Lloyd will be on the bus to Braintree on Saturday.
McCarthy said: "Lloydy would like to have it sorted for the weekend, we would, but Southport would."We have good relationships at Port Vale. It will come down to some decisions that are out of our control but we are hopeful we can sort something out with him."