Tony Pulis is desperate to keep hold of Jonny Evans but admits he is lining up replacements in case the defender joins Arsenal.
The 28-year-old has been linked with a move to Arsenal with the Gunners in desperate need of reinforcements to boost their injury-hit defence.
Per Mertesacker and Gabriel are injured while Laurent Koscielny is not yet fully fit after France’s Euro 2016 campaign, meaning rookies Calum Chambers and Rob Holding played in their 4-3 defeat to Liverpool last week.
Evans was outstanding in the Baggies’ 1-0 win at Crystal Palace last week and, ahead of Saturday’s Premier League visit of Everton, Pulis would fight to keep him.
“The most important thing is that Jonny is with us and we want him to stay because he’s an outstanding player,” he said.
“Last Saturday, whether it was (Andros) Townsend or (Wilfried) Zaha, and it’s not Jonny’s favourite position playing as a full-back, he was most probably our best player on the pitch.
“You don’t want to lose your best players, but in football sometimes that happens. If it does happen, you need to make sure you know where your replacements are.”
Albion signed Evans in a deal rising to £8million from Manchester United last summer and he was a stand-out player for them in his first year.
He has continued his form into this season and Pulis knows he relies on the Northern Ireland international.
Pulis said: “Have look at his performance on Saturday, his performance was fantastic. He played ever so well. The thing is with Jonny, I think he could play anywhere.
“He’s very well respected within the dressing room, he’s a lot quieter than a Fletch (Darren Fletcher) or people like that but he does his work and he gets tremendous respect because of the way he plays.”
Evans is likely to continue at left-back with Chris Brunt still out with a long-term knee injury but James Morrison is now fit following a hamstring problem which had sidelined him since January.