Lincoln City have warned Cambridge United Sam Smith is not for sale amid speculation they are preparing a third bid for the striker.
The Imps have so far rejected two offers for last season's top scorer which the Echo understands were well adrift of the club's valuation of the forward.
It is believed U's boss Jez George was hoping to tie up a deal worth £25,000 for the ex-Rushden striker, whose contract at Lincoln expires next summer, writes Leigh Curtis.
According to media in Cambridge, it would have eclipsed the £15,000 they paid for Andy Pugh, who signed from Welling in January.
The Abbey Stadium based-side are expected to table a third bid, but when contacted by the Echo, Lincoln refused to comment on the speculation.
It is understood David Holdsworth is furious at how news of their bid was leaked to the Cambridge media which he feels could unsettle the 22-year-old.
The Imps chief is desperate not to let any of his players leave the club after admitting the spirit in the camp has been exceptional so far.
And he sees Smith playing a key role in his team as he attempts to avoid a repeat of last term's struggle against relegation.
Although the forward missed large parts of the last campaign, Holdsworth believes he can be one of the most feared marksmen in the Blue Square Bet Premier.
He is understood to have met Smith and told him he is central to his plans and reaffirmed how valuable he was to the club.
Even though Smith's broken foot effectively ruled him out of the second half of last season, he still finished the campaign with seven goals in the league.