Burley promises clear out of bloated squad

Last updated : 02 January 2006 By Chris C
Speaking after Saints 2-1 win over Brighton, Burley revealed his thoughts on the current Saints squad: "We've got a squad of 32 and that for me is too big. We need healthy competition, but I like it to be lean and mean. I'll be looking to wheel and deal to try and build a squad for the future."

He gave a wry smile as he delivered his tongue-in-cheek 'wheel and deal' Redknapp cliché, with the difference being that he is looking to build for the long term rather than bring in a series of old pros for a last hurrah.

He also gave a clear hint that he knows which players are on their way out and who is interested in buying them: "We also have a number of players who maybe want to go. Players these days know who is after them - but any transfer has to be right for the club."

Saints certainly has one of the largest squads in the division, although given our injury jinx he may well need to keep numbers relatively high. When pressed on which areas of the team he was looking to strengthen he was coy and refused to be drawn just saying that he was looking to improve 'the team', although he did concede that the lack of cover at left back was a concern.

He has expressed his desire to keep hold of the youngsters and clearly buys into Saints philosophy of developing our academy players, with 7 former youth players making an appearance on the pitch. He needs to complement this by hanging onto the vital duo of Quashie and Niemi, both of whom have publically expressed their desire to stay, despite links with Rangers and Charlton respectively.

Equally important in our better defensive displays has been the resurgent Claus Lundekvam, although Saints may face a battle to hang onto him with clubs in England and abroad having declared an interest in the veteran.

More likely to make way are some of Saints older pros, with Fuller a notable absentee from the squad. Rory Delap is one of the few players not to have the 50% wage cut in his contract and several players such as Matthew Oakley and Marian Pahars are out of contract at the end of the season.

With Niemi and Smith on our books Alan Blayney is another looking likely to leave with Brighton manager Mark McGee saying that he would 'have a word with George' after the press conference to enquire about signing the player who was previously on loan there.

One player who has already left the club is Dennis Wise, whose formal departure was announced today with Saints canceling his contract after the former player coach said he wanted to leave having not got the manager's position.