Birmingham boss Alex McLeish believes on loan keeper Joe Hart will find it "very difficult" if he has to return to Manchester City and be second choice to Shay Given next season.
Hart has excelled during his temporary spell at Blues and emerged as a strong contender to be part of England's World Cup squad.
McLeish would like to retain the services of Hart for another 12 months although he accepts Roberto Mancini will have the final say on the matter.
But he believes the former Shrewsbury player would struggle to come to terms with being on the substitutes' bench at Eastlands after what he has achieved at Birmingham this season.
McLeish said: "It will great to get an early nod on Joe from City because we wouldn't want to be going into the May-June period thinking that Joe is going to be coming back here - when he is not.
"We have to get an answer from City quite soon - and I am sure Joe wants an answer as well.
"Manchester City have every right to answer when they want to. He is their player and they maybe don't have their plans fully in place yet. I can totally understand that.
"I am being selfish for Birmingham and they are doing it for Manchester City reasons so it is a difficult one. Joe is unfortunately caught in the middle of it."
McLeish added: "I know managers can't think about one player and one team. You have to think about the whole team and the whole club and you have to have a vision for the whole club.
"But the human element in me says a player of Joe's magnitute, after what he has done this season, will find it very difficult to be sitting on someone's bench next season regardless of maybe getting a pay hike.
"I just don't see it in that guy's nature to put up with that but it will be someone else's problem if that is the decision Manchester City make."
Meanwhile Birmingham's number two keeper Maik Taylor has vowed to carry on playing "as long as the enjoyment is still there" as he prepares for new contract talks at the age of 38.
Northern Ireland international Taylor has lost his first team spot this season to Hart but is keen to remain with Blues.
He said: "The minute I don't enjoy going in day to day and training, is the day I will pack up. It's not necessarily about playing at the weekend. It's about enjoying going to work every day which is your bread and butter."Reuse content