"James is a quality young player, and the intention is to be keeping hold of players of that calibre," Whelan told the Wigan Evening Post.
"In the end, of course, you have to let them go, there's no question about that.
"It's how long you can keep them here - and it also depends what the lad himself wants to do.
"You have to listen to players' demands and the reasons for that, and you have to be realistic with everybody. But it's too early to be analysing any of that.
"At this moment in time, we don't know if anybody is coming in for any of our players, and whether those players would want to leave if we decided they could go."