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United boss Wilder says Constable is the main man
The U’s boss arranged a meeting before pre-season training began to clarify the 27-year-old’s position in the squad.
A return of 80 goals in four seasons has meant Constable, known as ‘Beano’, has long attracted interest from other clubs, with Bristol Rovers the latest to make a formal bid.
United rejected two offers from the Pirates during the close season and Wilder was keen to stress the player was central to his plans for this term.
“Without a shadow of a doubt he has to be and will be the focal point,” he said. “He’s massively part of this going forward – he’s been a massive part of what’s happened.
“Beano’s the only player that’s still here from the squad I had when I came to the club.
“We just reiterated he’s a massive part of what we’re trying to achieve.”
Constable conceded it is never easy to completely ignore the speculation, but was grateful for the meeting.
He said: “It’s difficult (with bids) because they contact the club and it’s down to them.
“Obviously it’s nice to be told you’re wanted and on a personal level I want to be here.
“I love being at the club, this will be my fifth season here, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and I’m glad that it has been put to bed so I can concentrate on starting the season.”
United supporters will be hoping the striker is able to rediscover his best form, after noticeably struggling in the second half of last season.
A goal at AFC Wimbledon on Boxing Day took his tally for the campaign to nine, but Constable scored just twice more before the end of the season.
The barren spell began when the U’s accepted a bid from rivals Swindon during the January transfer window.
A lucrative move looked on the cards, but the player turned it down.
The intense pressure took its toll, though, and the U’s top scorer rarely looked comfortable in the final weeks.
Constable was sent off just 11 minutes into the derby against Swindon in March and after returning from suspension he played only a minor role during the crucial final games.
He said: “Having the time off you do reflect on things and when you look back on it, the second half of the season didn’t go as well as I would have liked.
“Personally, I’d pinpoint the Swindon game at home where I ended up getting sent off and then missed a couple of games.
“It didn’t pan out the way I wanted to, so it’s been nice to get away, refresh myself and recap on how it went and learn from some of the things that went on last season and hopefully put it right this season.”
Loan signing Scott Rendell was preferred up front at times in the run-in, before an unhappy spell was ended by a thigh injury which ruled Constable out of the last two games.
It led many to believe there had been a falling out between Wilder and his star striker, but the United boss made it clear the get together had nothing to do with clearing the air.
He said: “We have meetings with players all the time, in football there’s always going to be differences of opinions, but one thing we don’t do is make it a personal thing that lingers.
“I wanted to make sure that when he came in for the first day of the season that he knew exactly where he was.
“I’m delighted, if I’m honest, that he’s with us and I’m sure he can play an important part in us pushing on.”