ROBERTO Martinez has revealed any club interested in taking Chris Kirkland on loan would have to offer “the right challenge” for the former England goalkeeper.
Kirkland was on the verge of joining Championship outfit Cardiff last week, only for the deal to fall through at the 11th hour.
Martinez also says Kirkland, who spent time on loan at home-town club Leicester earlier in the campaign, remains a key member of the squad despite having lost his place to Ali Al Habsi.
“Chris is a big asset for us, but obviously Ali has been in good form,” Martinez said.
“He has been training really well and some part of his work needs competitive football, but it has to be the right challenge for him.
“For different reasons, the Cardiff deal wasn’t the right moment for Chris to leave on loan.
“We feel Chris needs to stay here, needs to carry on fighting for his place.
“His presence around the club is vital for the squad, and he is a very important player – even when he is not on the pitch.”