Charlton boss Les Reed insists striker Darren Bent is not for sale and warned old friend Alan Curbishley not to raid his former club.
As soon as Curbishley was installed as manager at West Ham, the rumour mill went into overdrive concerning a move for the England striker.
While Reed is close to his former coaching colleague at The Valley, the Addicks chief maintains there can be no sentiment in the battle for Barclays Premiership survival.
“Alan was managing Darren Bent last year, so that type of speculation was bound to happen,” said the Charlton head coach, who has now signed a new three-year deal since replacing Iain Dowie.
“But there has been no approach and we do not intend to sell Darren Bent in January.
“If I was in Alan’s shoes and I thought there was a chance of getting Darren Bent, then I would probably do it.
“He has got to do what he can to lift West Ham and get them out of relegation trouble, so I would not blame him for trying to sign Darren.”
Reed quipped: “But I have already sent him a text to say: ’Hands off. Stay away.’ Hopefully he will heed that.”
Bent’s consistent performances following his £3m (€4.5m) move from Ipswich at the start of last season saw the striker force his way to into the frame for England’s World Cup squad.
The 22-year-old has again been the Addicks’ main goal threat this term, netting eight goals, although he has not scored in five matches, as the south-east London club struggle to get out of the bottom three.
Bent signed a new four-year contract with Charlton during July, and Reed sees the striker as an integral part of his battle plans to beat the drop.
“It is important we keep him,” explained the Charlton manager.
“We are short of strikers and it is a position where I am looking to do business in January anyway.
“Curbs is very persistent, but I can be very stubborn as well.
“Darren is a Charlton player and I expect him to remain so and get us out of relegation rather than West Ham.”
Reed added: “Darren is a Charlton player, has signed a new long-term contract and when that happens you expect players to do everything they possible can for the team they are playing with.
“Darren is doing that and I have no problems with him.
“He is just like any other player in the team, desperate to get us out of trouble.
Having worked with Curbishley at Charlton before joining up with the Football Association, where he served as technical director, Reed has nothing but admiration for the 49-year-old.
“I wish Alan all the best and am sure he will do a great job there. I just hope they finish one below us and stay up. I will be well pleased with that,” said Reed.
“We are good friends and that will not change.
“But we are both professionals and will do our jobs to the best of our ability.”
Reed was, meanwhile, left less than impressed by rumours linking axed West Ham boss Alan Pardew with a move to Charlton, where he had also been a player.
“I do not think there has been a precedent of one manager coming to a club and joining forces,” said Reed, 53.
“It does annoy me when there is no foundation for it and is pure speculation.”
Charlton look set to have striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink fully fit for Saturday’s televised lunchtime encounter against Liverpool at The Valley.
But they will have to do without goalkeeper Scott Carson as part of his loan deal from the Reds.
Reed said: “Rafael does tend to change his team, so that will take a bit of working out to see what he is going to do.
“Hopefully we will have a few surprises for him.”