Lincoln City boss Danny Cowley has revealed the club have turned down a bid from Luton for combative midfielder Alex Woodyard.
The 24-year-old has made 34 appearances for the Imps this season, scoring twice, and played a key role in the club winning promotion from the National League last season.
Speculation had increased that the Hatters were in for Woodyard, with Cowley now confirming an offer had been made by Town and subsequently rejected by his board.
Speaking to BBC Radio Lincolnshire, he said: “We had a phone call last night to tell us that was going to happen.
“It was probably the worst kept secret in football because we were waiting for it to happen, an offer came in and its been rejected.
"For us, we're trying to compete with Luton. We respect they’re probably four, five years further down the journey than we are, we obviously respect them as a football club, but we really believe in the project that we have here and what we are doing.
“We want to add to our squad, we certainly don’t want to lose one of our best players.”
Woodyard started his career with Southend, before a spell in non-league and played under Cowley when he was at Braintree, following his manager to Sincil Bank in June 2016.
Cowley added: “I think he’s the heartbeat of our team and he's certainly the DNA of our team, the determination, the resilience and the grit that we’re really proud of.
“I think he has all of those qualities and plays with such a level of confidence game in game out.
"For Alex, myself and Nicky (Cowley, assistant boss), we have a unique relationship, we’ve been together a long time, I don’t think it would feel like one of my teams without him playing in the middle of midfield.
"For us to lose Alex and would be a huge blow and we certainly don’t want that to happen and will do everything we can in our powers to make sure he stays with us.”