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Brighton & Hove Albion have tonight rejected a second bid from Fulham for their central defender Lewis Dunk.

Reports claim that the Cottagers improved their £2.5m offer that was dismissed last month to around £3m today, but that the Seagulls also rebuffed that bid with manager Chris Hughton keen to keep the 23 year-old at the AMEX Stadium for the start of the new campaign. Fulham manager Kit Symons has long been an admirer of Dunk, widely regarded as one of the best English centre backs outside of the top flight, and has made improving his team’s defence one of his key priorities for his first full season in charge at Craven Cottage.

The 6ft 4in defender has become a key part of the Brighton side, making more than 100 appearances for the south coast club since making his debut in a goalless draw at MK Dons the day after he signed his first professional contract with the club in April 2010. Dunk rose through the youth-team ranks at Brighton, captaining the club at youth team level, and made 37 Championship appearances last season, scoring five goals.

Symons is eager to rebuild his back four after a disastrous campaign in the Championship that saw Fulham let in 83 goals, which was the second worst record behind relegated Blackpool in the division. It remains to be seen whether the Whites will seek to secure Dunk’s signature with an increased bid in the near future. The Seagulls are believed to value the defender at closer to £5m.