Alex Pike admits he is bracing himself at the prospect of losing two of his best players next month.
The Gosport Borough boss revealed last week that Colchester United are keeping tabs on midfielder Mike Carter.
But there has now also been an interest registered in striker Matt Paterson from a Football League club.
It’s far from ideal preparation for the Boxing Day derby showdown at local rivals Hawks (3pm) in Vanarama Conference South – especially as Pike believes the duo are a major reason behind his side’s vast improvement.
While Pike is unsure if he can hang on to the pair, he is expecting the interest to grow in the January transfer window.
He said: ‘We’ve had some interest in Matt Paterson from a club in the Football League, although we haven’t had an official approach or a bid just yet.
‘But I think any manager would be worried.
‘Him and Mike Carter are two of the main reasons why we have turned the club around from a bottom-three side to a top-three side. They are an integral part of that.
‘As a manager, you put in a lot of effort to bring players like that to the club so it is a worry that they could go.
‘I don’t know how I’d replace them.
‘If it’s a deal that suits the player and the club, hopefully I can chip away at the chairman to reinvest the money back into the side.
‘But for me as a manager, it sends out the wrong signals.
‘If Gosport want to be a big player and want to be a threat at this level, we have got to be keeping players and not selling them.
‘I understand players want to progress and play at the highest level and we wouldn’t stand in their way.
‘But being selfish about it, I would want to keep them.
‘It’s easy for the chairman to sell them and put money in the bank but I’ve got to run around and try to replace them.
‘It’s the manager’s reputation that is on the line, not the chairman’s.’
Gosport go into the game in third place in the table.
They are currently three places above the Hawks and Pike believes his side are no longer the underdogs they were in this fixture 12 months ago.
He said: ‘It doesn’t feel like we are massive underdogs any more.
‘We have probably surprised a few people this season and to be perfectly frank, I probably didn’t see that improvement coming myself.
‘But this is not just a derby – it’s a very important game and I love these big games on Boxing Day.
‘There is history between us now and we are third and sixth in the league.’
Pike also insists there is a healthy respect between himself and opposite number Lee Bradbury as the managers prepare for what should be a cracking contest.
‘There has never been any ill feeling between myself and Lee, the coaching staff or the two sets of players,’ said Pike.
‘I believe that Lee respects me and I have got a lot of time for him.
‘What goes on at boardroom level, I can’t comment on but that won’t affect what happens on the pitch.
‘I think it is a healthy rivalry but we both want to win.’
GOSPORT BOROUGH: Ashmore, Muleba, Pearce, Poate, Williams, Ramsey, Carter, Smith, Wooden, Paterson, Bennett, Wort, Wilde, Molyneaux, Dunford, Matthews