Aston Villa are unlikely to sanction the permanent sale of defender Nathan Baker to Bristol City in the summer if the club are relegated to the Championship, according to a report from the Bristol Post.
The centre-back joined the Robins in September on a season-long loan deal from the Premier League club, and has impressed in his first six months at Ashton Gate.
The 24-year-old has featured 27 times in all competitions for the Championship strugglers, winning over fans and managers alike with his committed displays at the heart of defence.
According to the Bristol Post, City manager Lee Johnson is keen on striking a deal to extend Baker's stay beyond the end of the current season, but those hopes are likely to be dashed if and when Villa slip into the second tier.
Baker was allowed to leave by former Villa boss Tim Sherwood at the start of the season with Micah Richards, Joleon Lescott, Jores Okore, Ciaran Clark, Philippe Senderos and Tiago Ilori all competing with the defender for a spot in central defence.
However, Senderos and Ilori have since left the Premier League basement club, whilst Richards has moved out to right-back in recent weeks.
With wholesale changes expected at Villa Park in what is likely to be a summer in which numerous big earners, a category which includes Richards and Lescott, are moved out of the club, Baker is likely to be brought back in to form part of next season's backline.
Baker has already made 88 appearances for the Villans since his debut for the club in 2010, of which 81 have been starts.
Villa are eight points adrift at the bottom of the Premier League table ahead of the clash with Everton on Tuesday night.