Contractual Obligations pt2 – the answer within
Hot on the heels of our “Contractual Obligations” article, Ando is first out the door with his contract cancelled. On the surface of it, it’s perfectly logical – he’s out for 3 or 4 months, then his contract runs out. However, pause for a moment and there is a hint at a change of direction. No “let’s get him fit and look at another year”, just “goodbye”. Clough has said that Tom Naylor is a ready-made replacement and has spoke increasingly about solutions from within. Here we look at those who could go and who needs to be replaced…
Out of contract: Russell Anderson
The new Ando: Able to play centre or right back, not expected to play 46 games Tom Naylor
Out of contract: Tomasz Cywka
The new Cywka: Striker who can pull right, again not expected to play 46 games. The change of guard has already happened and Mason Bennett will begin professional life in this role.
Out of contract: Stephen Pearson
The new Pearo: Although earmarked to go, Pearo began the season on the edge of the first team and features in the Carling Cup. However, the emergence of Jeff Hendrick has meant that Pearo’s midfield role is a distant memory. However, he used to play a useful role out wide, which brings us on to…
Out of contract: Dave Martin and Lee Croft
These two have barely featured at all for two years but despite the idea that we don’t play with wingers, we have mainly played a variation on 4-4-2 since last January. Our wide options are very thin, with almost no cover for form, injury, suspension or redeployment of Ben Davies or Jamie Ward. Aaron Cole could replace Croft and Martin for about 10% of the cost (wildly speculative figure) but in terms of the first team, we could probably do with bringing someone into the squad.
Out of contract: Leacock, Bucko, Riggott
The new defensive back-up-OB’s emergence a year early has immediately replaced Leacock. As for the other two, don’t rule out another year. Both would be relatively cheap and good characters to have in the squad. Josh Lelan and Stefan Gallinski have both featured for the reserves at a tender age but added to O’Brien and Naylor, we’ll still need some experienced back-up. Forgotten man Miles Addison is also due back in January, which might nudge out Bucko or Riggs.
Out of contract: Bywater and Deeney
The new goalkeeping cover: Already here. Fielding and Legzdins have replaced Bywater and Deeney. One or both of Atkins andSevern(both out of contract themselves) can provide further back-up.
Out of contract: Paul Green
The new Greenie: The majority verdict is to give him another year. I’ve no idea how generous his current deal is but on his day, he’s a great Championship player who is genuinely versatile, giving us cover where we lack it (wide right, right back). Bailey, Hendrick and Bryson may make it difficult for Green to be a regular and the returning Addisonfurther bolsters midfield options. Therefore, Green could be viewed as an expensive bit part player. Will Hughes has already been in the first team squad and despite being very young, Clough might decide that a teenage midfielder is adequate for a 4th or 5th choice midfielder (Alex Witham seems to have been overtaken here).
Out of contract: Conor Doyle
The new Conor Doyle: It’s easy to forget how young Doyle is as he’s been around the first team squad since he joined. However, having just turned 20, he’s more a contemporary of Ball, Hendrick et al than Maguire, Croft and Cywka. It’s still not clear what his best position is but I’d extend his contract. (Also, another player on a modest salary)
Out of contract: Gareth Roberts, Kevin Kilbane
The new left back solution: Kilbane may already have gone but I’ve included him as he played an important role early season and will need replacing. This is one position where we definitely need to sign someone – if Robbo, Killer, Pearo and Martin all leave, I’m not even sure we have any left footers left at the club apart from Ball and Shackell. Rhys Sharp is highly rated in the youth team but only a first year scholar.
Out of contract: Steve Davies
The new Steve Davies: A couple of months ago, it was unthinkable that Davies wouldn’t get a new contract. However, Once again, Davies has been the victim of a freak injury. If he takes another hit in the New Year, Clough may be wondering if it’s ever going to work out…and do “an Ando” on him.
The new Steve Davies: Callum Ball is chomping at the bit.
Conclusion: There are 15 players listed above who could go (inc. Ando). A handful may get an extension but overall, the exit door will be swinging more than the entrance. For saying we are seen as having a small squad, at least ten could go without anyone noticing.
Only a new left back would be essential, with the possible addition of a wide man (whatever happened to Saul Halpin, the young trialist winger who scored a hat-trick against Forest reseves?)