Sheffield United have been dealt a blow in their pursuit of Southend's Ryan Leonard.
Ron Martin, the Southend chairman, says the in-demand midfielder is not for sale. Both United and Millwall have had bids rejected for his services so far.
Leonard, Southend's player of the year for the last two seasons, is out of contract in June 2018 after the Shrimpers extended his deal for another year. Phil Brown's men finished last season a point outside the play-offs, and Martin is loath to lose his best player if they are to go one better next time around.
"I've met with Lenny and I've told him we don't want to sell him," Martin told the Southend Echo.
"We've rejected offers from two clubs for him. Our ambition is to get promoted from this league and to get into the Championship so it makes no sense to sell our best players. We will be offering him a substantially improved contract and he will receive that this week."
Bolton, who were also promoted alongside United and Millwall, are also thought to be interested in the 25-year-old. Brown has previously insisted that Leonard won't be sold on the cheap: “Things are bubbling along where Lenny is concerned but we’ve put a not for sale sign on his head at the moment and will do all we can to keep him,” he said.
“The chairman has met with Lenny for talks but we’ve had two more clubs come in for him from the Championship. There’s a lot of interest but we’ve knocked back all the bids so far.”
More to follow.