Boston United have given leading scorer Dayle Southwell until Thursday to decide where his future lies.
Manager Dennis Greene revealed the ultimatum after watching the striker net his 19th goal of the season during Saturday’s 3-1 victory at Hyde.
The club want to keep hold of their marksman, but are determined not to let transfer talks become an ongoing distraction to summer preparations - as happened with Ricky Miller last year.
Greene says that Southwell wants to remain at the Jakemans Stadium, but a few details need to be ironed out.
“We’re desperate to keep him and hopefully we can sort that out,” the manager said.
“He’s turned down a contract offer but hopefully we can sort something out.
“He wants to be at the football club, but his stock’s gone up, hasn’t it.
“Unfortunately, we’re not a club who can pay the sort of wages other clubs can pay, so he’s got to make a decision.
“Can he accept that pay rise and be at a good football club, or does he go some where else?”
Greene defended the club’s stance of giving their top scorer a deadline, pointing out that discussions have been ongoing for a matter of weeks.
An initial contract extension was turned down by Southwell, who will become a free agent in the summer.
Twelve months ago, United began similar talks with Miller, who decided to hold out for full-time football.
And just as the Conference North Player of the Year agreed to return for pre-season training, Luton Town came in with a late offer, scuppering United’s plans.
Greene is adamant he will not let history repeat itself, adding: “He’s (Dayle) got a deadline of this Thursday to make the decision.
“It’s up to him and, hopefully, he’ll make that decision.
“We’ve been negotiating for three weeks.
“If we go on any longer than Thursday then we start going into a month, and we start going into a Ricky situation.”
Southwell has previously spoken of his desire to stay with Boston, thanking the club for giving him the chance of regular football after a frustrating period at boyhood club Grimsby Town.
With both parties believing that a further contract will be mutually beneficial, especially as United plan for a stadium move which could bring greater investment to the club, a deal appears possible.
However, Greene is hoping his forward won’t have his head turned by additional parties.
“We’re not bullying him or pushing him up a fence,” Greene added. “We’re not talking about David Beckham and copyrights, we’re talking about us.
“We’re not only negotiating financially, we’re moving into a new stadium and trying to move up a level. He likes this football club, so be realistic.
“If there’s an agent involved, they’re the people saying to him ‘you can get this elsewhere’.
“They’re the people who mess this up - it messed things up with Ricky. It’s what agents do.
“Hopefully, he realises he’s enjoying his football and developing, or he can decide to go to another club which has four forwards and spend some time on the bench.”