THE situation facing Worcester City over Chris Smith is not one the club has had to deal with in recent seasons.

A rival club tabling an offer for their captain is pretty much unchartered territory for the St George's Lane club - but that is where City find themselves at the moment.

Players come and go all the time in non-league circles, the majority either on non-contract agreements or loans.

Seldom are transfer fees exchanged between clubs at Blue Square North level, with managers often called on to wheel-and-deal under tight budget restraints.

City manager Richard Dryden is a classic example. Within 48 hours of arriving at St George's Lane he had brought in Cameron Belford and Kevin Spencer on loan and has since done likewise with Jonathan Munday and Jonny Harkness from Kidderminster Harriers.

So when clubs do decide to splash the cash it is not done on a whim. After all, City went to a tribunal with Alfreton before parting with £3,000 for Ryan Clarke in August - a player former manager Andy Preece had been tracking for the best part of a year.

Therefore, AFC Telford United's interest in Smith must be taken seriously even if last week's £1,500 bid was rightly laughed off.

Dryden described the offer as derisory' and chairman Dave Boddy said it fell well below the club's valuation of the player. Privately, the City hierarchy must feel insulted that Telford believed such a paltry figure was a true reflection of Smith's ability.

Bucks' chairman Lee Carter was of the opinion that his club had made a very sensible and realistic offer'.

But to put some kind of perspective on the amount, £1,500 is less than a sixth of what Worcester paid for Jai Stanley in 2003, who ironically ended up at Telford for nothing.

Carter, though, also suggested the Shropshire side would be back with an improved offer, possibly this week, to try and tempt City.

"This is just the first phase of negotiations," he said, before adding: "Worcester rate him highly and we rate him very, very highly and in that instance something rarely gives."

He could well be right. No-one would blame City for wanting to hold out for at least £10,000, perhaps even £15,000, for a player regarded by many as one of the best centre-halves in Blue Square North.

Likewise, Telford would have to be willing to break their transfer record - currently £5,000 - if they are to have a chance of succeeding.

However, everyone has their price and there may come a time when City might have no alternative but to sell their skipper, if only to ensure he doesn't follow Stanley to Shropshire for nothing in the summer.

Smith's contract concludes at the end of this season and it is imperative that Worcester guard against the possibility of losing one of their most able and experienced players for no return when it expires.

The 26-year-old no doubt wants to play in the Blue Square Premier, where Telford could be next season, but hopefully he also has the loyalty to want to achieve it with Worcester.