Coventry City manager Micky Adams has told any potential summer suitors of Gary McSheffrey that it will take "an awful lot of money" to land the Sky Blues' prize asset.
Championship winners-elect Reading have this week become the first team to be publicly linked with the 15-goal striker but Adams, while playing down such transfer speculation, is privately pleased to hear McSheffrey's name linked with other clubs as long as he continues to perform in his present fashion.
"We welcome it," he said. "But I know Reading manager Steve Coppell very well and I know he won't be making his shopping list public.
"In any case, it's already been stated that they won't be throwing money at it when they get to the Premiership and they'd have to throw an awful lot of money our way to get Gary.
"He had a fantastic opportunity last summer to go and join any club he wanted on a Bosman and he chose to stay here.
"We've got real assets now, we've got players that other teams want and that's because we're doing reasonably well but, when it comes to sorting out the future of players who are out of contract this summer, I don't see it as similar to last season, because we're a better club now.
"If players can't see that and they want to hold us to ransom, then let them. We might risk losing one or two, but it's going to be some football club that they'll have to go to if they are to improve themselves."
There is still even the out-side possibility that, if the Sky Blues can maintain their current momentum, McSheffrey could yet play Premiership football at the Ricoh Arena next season, well ahead of the board's three-year target for promotion.
"That would be a nice problem to have," agreed Adams, who also warned that, if his side don't get a result against Crewe Alexandra at Gresty Road tomorrow, then they can all but forget about going up anyway.
"We're not getting carried away," he said, "We're just making progress. We're still not out of the play-off equation, but we can't look any further ahead than Crewe.
"For all the good work we've done at home, everybody still wants to talk about why our away form has been like it has. Although you don't know how other teams will perform on the day, if we don't go to Crewe and win, we can forget it anyway. Anything less than a win and you can possibly write us off and the Preston and Wolves games would be just games, but let's go and get that win first, then look at how it stands at 4.45 on Saturday evening."
Adams has the problem of how to cope without the suspended Dennis Wise tomorrow, while fellow midfielders Isaac Osbourne and Claus Jorgensen are both still out.
But, although Stephen Hughes made a midweek return for the reserves (along with Richard Duffy and season-long absentee Stuart Giddings), it is still too soon for him.
Adams also insisted that last week's row over Leeds United manager Kevin Blackwell's half-time admission to the referee's room has been put to bed.
"We wrote to Jim Ashcroft at the Referees Association," said Adams. "He agrees with us that it was naive on the referee's part to invite the Leeds manager and officials into his dressing room. If he does that, he should have invited one of us, too. It's a fob-off, but that's all we can do."