Thursday, 24th July 2014

Town boss urges stars to act fast

GRAHAM TURNER wants to find out as early as possible if the players he’s offered new deals to wish to stay for Shrewsbury Town’s charge into League One next season.

The Town boss has offered new contracts to goalkeeper Chris Neal, captain Ian Sharps, long-serving defender Shane Cansdell-Sherriff, industrious midfielder Nicky Wroe and top scorer James Collins.

But Turner has opted to release back up goalkeeper Ben Smith, experienced defender Carl Regan, former Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Sean McAllister and pacy winger Lionel Ainsworth as he bids to reshape his squad.

The manager has already been inundated with calls from agents making him aware of which players are available for next season and he expects to make at least four new signings.

Turner said: “We worked with a squad of 22 players last season. We have just signed two first-year professionals in Ryan Woods and Elliot Turner so we will be looking at somewhere around the 22, 23 player mark.

“A lot will depend on the decisions of the five we’ve offered contracts to, but having let four go, I think there will be a minimum of four coming in, maybe more. We’ve got a budget to work to and the Football League money will be down this year. The gap between the money you receive for being in the first and second divisions is not that great.

“It works out somewhere in the region of under £300,000, so the extra income is not massive.

“We are going into a league with some big hitters in there in terms of wage levels, turnover and everything else, so we have got to be good enough to be able to compete. But we have also got to have an eye on our finances and make sure we work to budget.”

Turner admits it would help his planning to have an early answer from the five players he has offered terms to over whether they are likely to stay.

He added: “We are hopeful that maybe we’ll get an indication early from the others to see if they wish to sign for us.

“We have had talks and we’ll see how it develops over the next week or two.

“The first meeting is very open. Having just finished the season off, there might be one or two clubs interested in our players.

“Agents will be working hard for them, that’s the nature of the game, the ruthlessness of the game.

“If I can get better players I will and, if they can get a club that will pay more on longer contracts, they will. It’s just the nature of the game now in the close season.

“There’s players out of contract now. The lists are beginning to come in, particularly from agents and, once again, it will be a substantial list.

“As well as talking to our own players, we will also be sifting through the list of out-of-contract players and seeing what might be of interest to us.”

Turner met with four of the five players he has offered new deals to at the Greenhous Meadow earlier this week, the one exception being top scorer Collins who had already been offered a two-year contract.

Turner added: “We made a formal offer to James and, in the subsequent discussions, we decided to leave it until after the last match.

“Over the next week or so we’ll see whether we can reach a conclusion to it. He’s under 24,so we would be entitled to some compensation for him.”