Hull City stand firm as rival duo eye swoop for Robert Koren
HULL City intend to stand firm against any approaches for in-demand playmaker Robert Koren, despite the continued interest of Leicester and Reading.
Koren has been consistently linked with a move away from the KC Stadium this summer and national reports have suggested a £500,000 bid has been tabled by the Foxes' boss Nigel Pearson.
However, the Mail understands the offer in question was rejected at the end of last season and, as yet, City are still to field any follow-up bids for Koren ahead of pre-season training on Monday.
The future of Koren, who won the Tigers' Player of the Season award in 2011-12 after a return of 10 goals, will be one of the first priorities for new boss Steve Bruce to address ahead of the new campaign.
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It is believed the former West Brom midfielder was assured that talks over a contract extension would take place this summer, but the exit of Nick Barmby has left those discussions shelved.
Koren has made no secret of his desire to return to the Premier League and will seek assurances from Bruce that his ambitions can still be realised at the KC Stadium.
City, meanwhile, have no immediate wish to cash in on the Slovenian but both Leicester and Reading will hope an improved offer could yet alter the Tigers' outlook.
Although owners Assem and Ehab Allam have stressed none of their prized assets will be off-loaded this summer, the prospect of seeing Koren's market value reduced to nothing in 12 months cannot be easily ignored.
A seven-figure offer for a player set to turn 32 in September would represent an attractive bid, but nothing will be decided until Bruce runs the rule over all his squad in the opening two weeks of pre-season in England and during a warm-weather camp in Portugal.
Pearson, who brought Koren to the KC Stadium in 2010, and Reading, newly promoted to the Premier League, will lie in wait with a keen interest.
Bruce will begin his preparations for the new season when his newly-inherited first-team squad return to training on Monday.
No new signings are likely to be in attendance but Bruce will hope to be flanked by a new-look backroom set-up on his first day in the hot-seat.
Deals have been agreed with Sunderland for the Tigers to land coaches Keith Bertschin and Stephen Clemence and scout Bryan 'Pop' Robson, who all worked with Bruce at the Stadium of Light and contracts are expected to be rubber-stamped in the next 48 hours.
Bruce plans to meet with his coaching staff on Sunday before his players arrive at Cottingham on Monday morning.
CITY will keep the KC Stadium ticket office open for extended hours today and tomorrow ahead of the looming season ticket deadline.
Staff will be on hand until 7pm tonight and will also open from 9am right up until the 2pm deadline for season passes at the lowest possible rate.
After tomorrow, Season Cards will go off sale as the club implements new systems in time for the new campaign.