Chris Wilder reiterated James Constable ’s pivotal role in the Oxford United squad for the new season amid reports Bristol Rovers are set to make a third bid for the striker.

The U’s rejected two approaches from the Pirates during the close season and it was thought their interest had gone cold.

But it appears to have been revived after Rovers sold forwards Mustapha Carayol and Chris Zebroski this week.

Their exits mean the npower League Two club need firepower and have money to spend.

Manager Mark McGhee is looking to bring in four players before the start of the season – when Oxford United visit the Memorial Ground.

Wilder met Constable, known as Beano, before pre-season training began to reassure the striker he was key to the U’s plans for this campaign.

And nothing has changed as far as the U’s boss is concerned, despite the reports Rovers are set to increase their offer.

“(Constable’s) a part of it and until I’m told differently he’ll be leading the line for us,” he said.

“I’ve been delighted through the summer, I think Beano’s attitude has been brilliant. He’s got a massive part to play here – he knows that and I know that.”

Constable admitted to being unsettled by interest from Swindon Town in January, when the U’s accepted an offer believed to be in the region of £225,000.

But Wilder is full of praise for the way the 27-year-old has performed during pre-season, whi-ch included a goal in Monday’s 4-1 win against the Jim Dedeus All Star XI on the US tour.

He said: “I feel he’s cleared his head, we’ve had numerous talks – going over old things it was a tough old time for him last season – but he’s come back and his general play has been superb.

“I’m glad he got a goal on the tour, as forwards will always say once you get one goal some more will follow.”