York City today turned down a major cash bid to lure skipper Tony Barras away from Bootham Crescent.

Manager Alan Little said the club had rejected a six-figure offer, thought to be in the region of £200,000 to £300,000 for the centre-back, who is preparing to lead City in tomorrow's clash to Second Division basement club Burnley.

While the proposed fee from an unnamed rival Second Division club represented a massive profit on City's 1994 £25,000 purchase of Barras, Little insisted they would not allow their best players to be creamed off cheaply.

Declared the City boss: "There was initial contact with me from the club and then chairman to chairman talks.

"But we feel the fee, a very good one, was not enough. Tony Barras is a key player and is highly valued by the club. We do not intend to see any of our players go on the cheap."

The City boss added that Barras had been informed of the shock development and was happy to be staying put with the Minstermen, who are on the verge of discovery.

Come 5pm tomorrow City should learn whether they have survived their biggest test of character after Little stationed his men on battle alert in the build-up to the Roses collision at Burnley.

For eight weeks they were unbeaten in Division Two. But that sequence expired to Millwall, City unhinged more by their own deficiencies.

Since then Little is increasingly confident his men will bounce back now that the going has got tough. He said: "I have tested them all week and they have come through.

"I believe we are winning the battle. But the battle does not end until Saturday. By 5pm tomorrow I will know if they have turned the corner."

The City leader was waiting until late fitness checks on left-back Wayne Hall (thigh) and right-back Andy McMillan, still thought not to have fully recovered from his long-term ankle damage.

A more acute puzzler rested up front. The axis of Rodney Rowe and Richard Cresswell is now under serious threat from Gary Bull, who opened his long overdue league account this term in the feverish finale against Millwall.

"We are capable of going to Burnley and winning and we have to believe that. We have protected ourselves with six draws, and then we kicked ourselves with that loss to Millwall.

"Until last year we had never won at Turf Moor, but we have broken that hoodoo now. We need not go their with any fear or apprehension."

Burnley will be forced into one definite change from the side which beat fellow strugglers Southend United last week. Midfield enforcer Mark Ford, the Clarets' £250,000 recruit from Leeds, is suspended.

That could let in Australian under-21 international Mark Robertson, who impressed in the midweek Auto Screens Windshield win over Notts County.

Striker Andy Cooke is also expected to return alongside last Saturday's goal hero Andy Payton, who swapped places with ex-City ace

Paul Barnes as he moved to Huddersfield a fortnight ago.

l After holding Leeds United to a draw York City Intermediates head for Newcastle United in the Northern Intermediate League tomorrow (ko 11am).

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