WANDERERS have opened new contract talks with their England U19 star Matt Phillips as they battle to head off interest from Bristol City.

The Championship had an undisclosed bid turned down for the Aylesbury-born wing wonder this week, but talks between the clubs were yesterday described as being ‘on-going’ by manager Gary Waddock.

City’s opening offer was ‘not close’ to Blues’ valuation of the teenager they have spent ten years nurturing, but the Ashton Gate outfit look set to test their resolve by coming back in with a renewed bid.

However that was yesterday morning, before City boss Steve Coppell rocked the Robins by announcing his retirement less than four months after taking up west country hotseat.

Keith Millen, a close friend of former Wanderers ace Terry Evans, a pal of Blues’ owner Steve Hayes, has taken over team affairs on a three-year deal.

And his immediate task will be to provide a rapid improvement after City lost both their opening fixtures.

But Wanderers are hoping they can head off interest from City and Phillips’ other suitors, Southampton, Leeds, Preston and Watford by persuading him to ink a new deal.

He has one year left on his current Adams Park contract and Blues have now offered him an extension, although they say they won’t stand in his way if a bigger club comes in with an acceptable offer.

Waddock said: “We want to keep him, he’s a talented footballer but if they meet the club’s valuation we will talk about it.

“We have offered him a deal, it’s on the table and it is up to him to decide whether he signs it or not.”

Phillips was a substitute in Wycombe’s opening-day win over Morecambe last Saturday but sparkled when he was given a start against Championship side Millwall in the Carling Cup in midweek.

He produced a moment of dribbling magic to set Ben Strevens up for Wycombe’s 75th minute equaliser which took the cup tie into extra time, where the Blues were finally beaten 2-1.

Phillips said: “We are in talks at the moment over a new contract here.

“The talks are going well and hopefully we will be able to come to some agreement over the next few days or so.

“It’s a good club club and it’s moving in the right direction and until something happens or something is accepted this is where I am.

“I am here to play football and that’s what I’m getting on with.”

Phillips faces stiff competition for an Adams Park start though, having to oust either skipper Gareth Ainsworth or fans’ favourite Kevin Betsy for one of his preferred wide berths.

Phillips said: “There’s good healthy competition for places and at the minute I’m having to fight to get my place.”

Even if the 19-year-old does not sign up, Wanderers would still get compensation for him if he lets his contract run out this summer, because he is under 24 years old.