IAN Lenagan rejected a third transfer bid for James Constable last week to avoid compromising Oxford United ’s promotion challenge.

The U’s turned down an improved offer from Bristol Rovers on Friday, which officially ended the Pirates’ interest in the striker, known as Beano, after two approaches earlier this summer.

Lenagan used his programme notes in last night’s game against Southend to explain the decision over United’s top-scorer last season, but who was a substitute last night due to a slight groin injury picked up at the weekend, ironically against Rovers.

The U’s owner and chairman said: “We are clear about our vision for Oxford United, which is to win promotion to League One this season.

“A sign of our commitment to this vision is our rejection on Friday of a third bid from Bristol Rovers for James Constable.

“It was a good offer around £200,000, but we value the stability and team spirit engendered in the first-team squad this year and Chris Wilder and I do not wish to jeopardise that at this crucial phase of the new season.”

If a bid had been accepted and Constable had left, it would have given United little time to find a permanent replacement before the transfer window closes at the end of this month.