Monday, June 23

Daily WHUFC News - 23rd June 2014

Jarvis searching for more Spurs success
Matt Jarvis scored in the Capital One Cup victory over Spurs last season and wants another on 16 August!

Matt Jarvis played a key role in helping secure West Ham United's famous treble against Tottenham Hotspur last season and cannot wait to try and make it four wins in a row against the north Londoners when they lock horns on the opening day of the Barclays Premier League season. The fixture computer paired the Hammers with Spurs in a mouthwatering Boleyn Ground derby and Jarvis says Sam Allardyce's men could not have asked for a more appealing start to the campaign. He said: "Tottenham at home for the first game is one we can all look forward to. We enjoyed great wins over them last season. I am sure our fans will be excited and the pressure is on us to deliver another good result of course! "It will be a tough game, Tottenham will be looking, as we all are, to make that positive start to a new season and set about their targets and as we know it's a London derby, but a great game to begin the new campaign. "We had a terrific atmosphere at our ground for this match last season and I know our fans will be out in force again to get behind us so we can work towards making the best start possible. "The aim is to make a solid start if we can and get some points in the bag early on, to give you that little platform to build on. We will be confident for every game but also know that we will have to be on the front foot and work hard to achieve the results we want. "I am looking forward to the start of what we hope will be a successful season for us all at West Ham."

International action for young Hammer
Academy player Louis Yuill played his part in a UEFA Development Tournament for Scotland recently

Young Hammer Louis Yuill was given a taste of the international stage recently when he represented Scotland U16 in a UEFA Development Tournament in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The young Scots were the strongest nation at the tournament, opening with a 3-3 draw against the host nation, before defeating Azerbaijan 3-1 and Montenegro 1-0. Yuill was involved in the victory against Azerbaijan, playing the eighty minutes as Scotland recoved the blow of losing a first half lead to go on and win comfortably. The tournament served as preparation for the 2014/15 UEFA U17 Championship campaign, which begins with a qualifying round against Republic of Ireland, Gibraltar and the Faroe Islands in September. Yuill will be sure to take plenty from the experience, and will hope to be involved when the next set of qualifiers come around.

West Ham United at the World Cup - '06
Shaka Hislop was the West Ham United's sole representative at the 2006 FIFA World Cup

West Ham United were represented by one player at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, Trinidad & Tobago goalkeeper Shaka Hislop. The then-37-year-old was fresh from the Hammers' first season back in the Premier League and had helped the Club reach the FA Cup final. Come the end of the season, his attentions turned to Trinidad's first World Cup campaign, and the Caribbean nation left wih their heads held high after three battling performances. Hislop was a late call-up for the opening game, replacing Kelvin Jack for the clash with Sweden after Jack suffered a calf injury in the warm-up. The game ended 0-0 with Hislop keeping a clean sheet and he retained his place for the meeting with England next up. It looked for a long time that Hislop would again play his part in frustrating the fancied nation, as the 84th minute arrived with the score still 0-0. But Peter Crouch and Steven Gerrard found the net to give England a 2-0 victory in what turned out to be Hislop's 26th and final international cap. Jack was back between the posts for the final group game, as Paraguay proved just too strong to send Trinidad & Tobago to a 2-0 defeat. Hislop, who had two spells in claret and blue, moved on to Dallas FC at the end of the tournament, where he made ten MLS appearances before retirement.

By S J Chandos 22 Jun 2014 at 18:00
West Ham Till I Die

Reports have emerged today linking West Ham with a c.£6.5m transfer move for Sporting Lisbon striker, Islam Slimani. The original news story stems from the Portugese press, who have observed that West Ham made an abortive attempt to sign Slimani in last January's transfer window and are now continuing their pursuit of the player. In January, the failed move took the format of an inital loan deal, with the option of a permanent move thereafter. This summer, West Ham may well 'bite the bullet' financially and seek to land the 26 year old Algerian international in a permanent deal.

Slimani is currently on international duty, at the World Cup in Brazil, with the Algerian Squad. So far he has made a second half substitutes appearance in the match vs Belgium. We may get another glimpse of him in World Cup action this evening vs South Korea. At club level, his 8 goals and 4 assists in 26 appearances helped Sporting Lisbon to a creditable 2nd place finish in the Portugeses league. However, there is unlikely to be much room for negotiation on the fee, with Slimani contracted to Sporting Lisbon until 2017. Its a matter of whether the player offers something different that we do not currently have in the squad and that justifies paying the c.£6.5m fee.

Elsewhere, it has been widely reported that Turkish club, Fenerbance, have offered the Hammers the chance to sign former Chelsea and Liverpool miderfielder, Raul Meireles, for a nominal c.£2.5m fee. However, the sticking point is likely to be his wages, which are substantial. As such, it may be doubtful that this deal will come to fruitation. Although if it did, by some chance, Meireles, would certainly bring a bit of lost 'character' back to Upton Park!

Oh well, that's the latest West Ham transfer rumours, lets see who we are linked with tomorrow!!

SJ. Chandos

By S J Chandos 22 Jun 2014 at 12:31
West Ham till I Die

According to today's Sunday People, West Ham are plotting a transfer swoop for River Plate's young Colombian World Cup star, Eder Balanta. The story suggests that the Hammers scouts at Brazil 2014 are monitoring the performances of the 21 year old prospect, ahead of a £6million bid. The report also makes the point that Balanta only made his international debut for Colombia in March and so may not yet be on the the scouting/recruitment radar of many of the big Premier Legaue and European outfits. However, it seems that the Hammers have been aware of his ability for some time and they will try to follow through by striking a deal as soon as the Colombian national side have exited the World Cup.

There is no doubting the extent to which Balanta is highly rated within South American football circles. Indeed, River Plate's former coach, Ramón Díaz has gone as far as to compare the Colombian youngster's talents to that of legendary Argentine centre-back and captain, Daniel Passarella. While he has also apparently impressed FIFA, whose official website describes the centre-back in the following glowing terms:

'left-footed, powerfully built, strong in the air and a fearless tackler … blessed with skill and speed'

So, if this story is true, it seems that West Ham are endeavouring to pull off a transfer coup by signing an outstanding prospect from under the noses of the PL and European big guns. Can they do it? You might conclude that the odds are heavily stacked against them, but if the reports of his playing attributes are accurate, then you can neither fault West Ham's nerve nor their ambition! If they manage to pull off the coup, Balanta will be another exciting addition to the squad, following on from the excellent signings of Zarate and Kouyate.

However, It should perhaps be duly noted that River Plate Vice President, Omar Solassai, has recently valued the player at a lot more than £6m and linked him with a possible futuire move to Spanish giants, Barca: Solassai stated that:

'Balanta is worth €15 million; he is a great player with a great future. I think that Balanta would be liked by Tata Martino, as it would not seem odd to me if Barca are interested in him. He is a player that will come good whichever team he plays for. Balanta is not like Mascherano nor like Pique; he is a different sort of player with more presence. He is a strong defender, is good on the ball and knows how to play going forward.'

Does that throw the ultimate cold water on the proposed West Ham link? We shall see?

SJ. Chandos.

That Was The Season That Was 2013-14 - Part Three
Filed: Sunday, 22nd June 2014
By: Gordon Thrower

The latest in Gordon Thrower's look back at last season covers the end of 2013 and the start of 2014. Yes it includes the mandatory win over Spurs but you may want to cover your eyes when we get to January. We did......

November 2013

The month opens with the news that club Honorary Life resident Terence "Terry" Brown has put in £1m of his own money into the club, the club being Sheffield Wednesday. The deal arises as a result of Brown's friendship with Milan Mandaric, who, you will recall was acquitted of tax evasion charges alongside Henry Redknapp. The news goes down well with long-suffering Hammers mindful of a perceived lack of investment by Brown during his tenure as chairman.

Scientists, possibly in a newspaper space filing exercise, claim that octopuses are highly intelligent and it's them we need to worry about in an uprising rather than apes. Although it's fair to say that cephalopods are already able to outsmart the average Millwall supporter and already have the same amount of backbone as the average referee, it's also fair to say that you can delete the word "possibly" from the first sentence of this paragraph.

Back in the equally mad world of football the 4-6-0 formation gets another airing at home against Villa. The total number of goals scored in the match matches the number of strikers we field, namely, nil, as a dull match finishes goalless. We go up a place to 14th as a result.

Jermain Defoe apologises for the manner of his departure from the club in 2003. "I was badly advised but made a terrible mistake". Rumours that Paul Ince might apologise for taking illegal instruction from Alex Ferguson all those years ago are of course ludicrous – it takes a man to admit guilt.

More fun up in Geordieland as the Supporters Trust are offered a permanent seat on the club's fan forum. They attend a meeting, publish the minutes and are then told that there seat has been withdrawn, presumably the decision being taken when someone finally informs Joe Kinnear of the meaning of the word permanent.

Three men accused of tapping into Karren Brady's 'phone messages on behalf of (but not at the behest of our lawyers remind us) of Tottenham Hotspur as part of their attempts to scupper the Olympic Stadium move are found guilty. I review my records and find that a Spurs website has tapped into my own messages. Three supporters are later found to have died of boredom as a result.

Former Co-Op bank chairman Paul Flowers is caught buying "recreational pharmaceuticals." In a nod to his role as a church minister the newspaper wags dub him "The Crystal Methodist" which is quite good for them. The revelations follow his appearance before a Treasury Select Committee in which his ignorance of the Bank's finances is alarming. Now we know why.

We outplay Norwich city at Carrow Road in the first half of our match up there but take only a 1-0 lead into the interval. More incompetent refereeing from Jonathan Moss whose errors have made a significant difference to every game he has "controlled" this season hands the match to Norwich on a plate as Jaaskalainen is penalised for a foul on a clearly diving Hooper, having been barged out of the way by Snodgrass. A second set piece goal after another joke of a decision and a late counter attack see us cheated out of points 3-1.

The injury woes continue as Winston Reid damages an ankle in training. It's a long-termer for which the projected absence is counted in months rather than days.

More refereeing woes as Spurs' favourite cyclist Chris Foy falls for an embarrassment of a dive from Oscar in the home match against Chelsea. Fat Boy despatches the penalty as usual and later adds a second as Chelsea take full advantage of the leg-up given by yet another unpunished spot of incompetency from the officials to win 3-0.

Notably, when we finally get a referee who isn't incompetent we return to winning ways with a 3-0 win over Fulham who sack Martin Jol 24 hours later. Maiga, Cole C. and Cole J. are on target against opponents best described as "woeful". Jol barely survives 24 hours before getting the sack.

Nigella Lawson's former personal assistants go on trial accused of theft. During the trial it transpires that Ms Lawson has been no stranger to the odd intake recreational pharmaceutical herself. Lawson finds herself on a shortlist with the Crystal Methodist for a future episode of Come Dine With Me.

December 2013

All hopes that a new month might see some sort of improvement in the form of referees are dashed as the match officials simply give up trying to get things right. Marouane Chamakh's goal plus another breathtakingly poor performance from Lee Mason are enough to give Crystal Palace a 1-0 win at Selhurst.Park. A Stewart Downing equaliser is disallowed as Tomkins is penalised for having his shirt pulled by a defender. Mike Riley remains silent on the declining standards of refereeing in England, pausing only to pocket his six-figure salary. The Crystal Methodist shakes his head and rues being in the wrong business.

Hull City Owner Asssem Allam presses on with plans to rename the club Hull Tigers. His reaction to the chant "City Till I Die" is not particularly pleasant: "They can die s soon as they want" he rants. Nice.

After a long illness former South African President Nelson Mandela passes away. The papers are full of tributes from people who never met him but are keen to bask in some sort of reflected glory.

Things don't improve any as the traditional defeat at Anfield is again assisted by the traditional assistance given to the home side by referees. A frankly shocking challenge by local thug Flanagan on Downing puts the winger in hospital where he receives 23 stitches as a result of two pairs of studs going into the back of his calf. I suppose we ought to be thankful that ref Michael Oliver gave a free kick at all. A Skrtel og is our only consolation and things go from bad to worse as Nolan, who gets totally fed up with players coming through the back of him finally loses it and lunges at Henderson, whose injury requires no stitches at all but earns Nolan a red nonetheless. Inexcusable but understandable.

The so-called six-pointer at home to Sunderland is a game of such mind-boggling awfulness I actually fill up the later parts of my match report with a picture of some kittens.

The Welsh town of Bangor is awarded the title of "Randiest In Britain" as it's revealed that its good citizens spend more per head (if that's the right word) on sex toys than anywhere else in the UK. Our owners are said to be not displeased.

A major scientific study shows there are physical differences between the structure of men's and women's brains. I would have inserted a gag here about explaining the offside law to the missus but we're not that sort of website. Apparently.

Still in amongst all the doom and gloom we can always rely on Spurs to give us a giggle. We go to White Hart Lane for the League Cup Quarter Final and perform the football equivalent of Muhammad Ali's rope-a-dope tactic. Adebayor's opener is cancelled out by Jarvis and, with the layer not having not scored for a year, Modibo Maiga's winning header is all the sweeter. The match means that supporters at this point in the season have seen us win more times at White Hart Lane than they have at the Boleyn.

Following an incident in September when someone broke into the Anfield training ground to threaten him, Steve Gerrard is assaulted getting out of his Range Rover near his home. One might almost suspect that Gerrard had gotten the wrong side of some bad people were it not for the fact that, as England captain he would never have got himself involved with any sort of criminal elements in the first place would he.

Having had a decent match in the League Cup QF, albeit only against Spurs,'keeper Adrian is retained for the trip to Man Utd where we go down 3-1. A rare home win for the ex-champions who, under David Moyes, are having an otherwise hilariously dreadful season.

Boxing day sees an improved performance as Carlton Cole puts us 1-0 up against Arsenal. Arsenal manage to run up 3 in reply, though the result flatters them somewhat.

It's revealed that James Tomkins has been arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer outside a Brentwood club, though the player's solicitors state that the charges will be vigorously contested.

Having been partly responsible for one of Arsenal's goals Adrian returns to the bench for the visit of West Brom. It's an eventful 90. Joe Cole puts us 1-0 up before Tomkins limps off injured. The arrival of Demmel as replacement leaves us with a back four populated entirely by full-backs. Anelka equalises but it's a goal that ultimately leads to his departure from the club, his goal celebrations containing a gesture that apparently has anti-semetic connotations. Anelka gives the visitors the lead after a wrongly-awarded corner (our old "friend" Mike Dean making sure he is the centre of attention again) to send us in 2-1 down at the interval. Sub Maiga equalises and sets up Nolan to give us a 3-2 lead that, of course, we fail to hang on to as Berinho equalises.

It's announced that Lord Lucan-a-like striker Mladen Petric has had his contract terminated. Having played just a few minutes before disappearing off the face of the earth through injury the club exercise a break clause at the earliest possible. "I'd have left anyway" claims the player, not entirely convincingly.

We do bring in a new striker, though at the age of 18 Peterborough's Jaanai Gordon is one for he future.

So we end the year second from bottom. We still have misfiring, injured and not quite ready strikers and poor refereeing has cost us more points than ever. 2014 has got to be better. Hasn't it?

January 2014

2014 isn't any better. We go 1-0 up on New Year's day at Fulham. Fulham equalise as Noble hobbles off injured. Nolan, just back from suspension after his sending off at Anfield kicks out petulantly at Amorbietta to earn himself another red. If his dismissal at Anfield was understandable if inexcusable, this one is just inexcusable. Lazy Bulgarian Berbatov nets the inevitable winner for the home side Happy New Year?

Given the lack of fit centre halves on the club's books Everton' Johnny Heitinga is on the shopping list until the player changes his mind due to a gut feeling. Heitinga eventually signs a six-month deal with Fulham. You must drop us a line to let us know how that went Johnny.

Given the parlous state of affairs in the league, the cups can usually be relied upon to provide a sot of light relief. Not this year though. In advance of the away trip to Forest in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, the manager paves the way for a severely weakened XI to take the field by warning that he has only 14 of the 25 man Premier League squad available for selection.

More sad news arrives from South Africa where Andy Malcolm has passed away in Port Elizabeth. Malcolm had been a key member of Ted Fenton's 1958 promotion-winning squad and after retirement had run pubs in Essex before retiring to RSA in 1986. RIP.

The manager's earlier warnings over the strength of the side to play Forest turn out to be no idle threat. We effectively withdraw from the Cup by fielding a side largely populated with youth team and development squad players. Forest run out 5-0 winners in front of a crowd that contains the better part of 3,000 Hammers who had shelled out good money in the mistaken belief that the first XI might have been involved.

The defensive numbers are bolstered by the arrival on loan of Wolves defender Roger Johnson. Johnson is out of favour at parent club Wolves, partly as a result of a contract containing wages reflecting the club's then Premier League status. Johnson's nickname of "Roger The Relegator" does not bode well. The manager promises to field a stronger XI out against Man City, claiming that we can beat them over the two legs of the League Cup Semi-Final. We promptly lose the first leg 6-0. There's as much sign of Allardyce at the post-match press conference as there is of our defence during the match that preceded it – namely, none at all.

Deals to sign Monaco striker Lacina Traore and/or Milan frontman Ishak Belfodil come to naught over the "paperwork" prompting one wag to suggest that reclassifying all potential immigrants as "professional footballers" would halve the queues at airport border points at a stroke.

The row over the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar rumbles on. FIFA are astonished to discover that the country to which they have awarded their premier tournament has an average summer temperature of 40 degrees (or, to those who think in proper units, 104 degrees Fahrenheit). It's almost as if the delegates had awarded the tournament to a totally unsuitable country in return for shedloads of cash. They wouldn't have, would they?

We venture abroad to Cardiff where the return of Tomkins allows us the luxury of fielding two central defenders in the centre of defence in the same match at the same time. Mostly. Two yellows for Tomkins means that this state of affairs does not survive the 90 minutes. However we gain a welcome three points with Carlton Cole and a late – and rare non-penalty - goal from Mark Noble. This gives us our sixth win on the trot against Cardiff, who are dubbed "The Welsh Tottehnam" as a result. The Noble goal is notable for the contribution of some chap called Andy Carroll who makes his first appearance of the season.

Those interested in weather stats note that it has barely stopped raining all month. A UKIP party member and councillor gets suspended for blaming the biblical levels of rainfall on the country's decision to legalise gay marriage. Apparently God is angry as a result. Quite what the rest of have done to anger God so that we get elected politicians who come out with such drivel is unknown.

Down under a resurgent Australia complete a 5-0 series whitewash over England to regain the Ashes. That gay marriage thing must really be bugging God big time. His mood is probably not improved by the news that former Hammer Thomas Hitzlsperger has announced that he is gay. Alternatively, and slightly more sanely, most people shrug their shoulders with the thought that should there be a God he might have more important things to be concerned with. Sepp Blatter considers asking the Qatari ruling family to make homosexuality compulsory for the duration of the 2022 Word Cup in the hope of annoying God enough to provide enough rainfall to cool things down to enable matches to take place.

Ravel Morrison continues to cause a stir. A mystery groin strain seems to be keeping him out of the squad, though his manager and backroom staff admit to being "baffled by the injury".

Only 14,000 or so people are in the Boleyn to see Man City complete the League Cup formalities with a 3-0 win. Fewer still probably bother to watch the match on the box.

The ever-reliable Mail website comes up with headline of the month as they inform us that "Nudists, bell ringers, noisy children and carol singers defeat Government attempt to outlaw annoying behaviour". Don't bother looking up the story – it's nowhere near as good as the one you're imagining based solely on the headline. Another candidate: "Honey Boo Boo Shows Off Cheerleading Moves With Help From Dad Sugar Bear Following Check Up For Injuries Sustained In Car Crash" is disqualified from the competition on the grounds that I haven't the faintest idea what any of those words mean.

We actually sign an actual striker. Marco Boriello arrives on loan to the end of the season from Roma. Just in time to sit on the bench and watch Carroll regain match fitness then.

Boriello is followed from Serie A by midfielder Antonio Nocerino, who arrives on another loan deal from Milan. Nocerino's surname translates as "little nut", which is recognised medical condition. I am told.

We go to Stamford Bridge and Adrian has a marvellous evening pulling off a number of fine saves as we grab a point from a 0-0 draw. Never being one to keep his gob shut even if he has nothing intelligent to say Jose Mourinho describes our tactics as "19th century football", ignoring the fact tat it's the same tactic as hs own side use in just about every Champions League match. Special One? Special Needs more like.

We finish the month third from bottom two points from safety but with Andy Carroll back and regaining fitness by the minute. Repeat after me: We will not go down. We will not go down.....

West Ham now reportedly want €8m striker in permanent deal
Vincent Ralph

West Ham United have been linked with a move for Sporting Lisbon front-man Islam Slimani. West Ham United are interested in signing striker Islam Slimani in a permanent deal this summer according to reports. Portuguese newspaper O Jogo claims the Hammers held exploratory talks with Slimani's current club Sporting Lisbon back in December, when a potential loan move was mooted. And while that failed to materialise, the latest claim is that the London club will return with a bid that could see them sign the Algerian on a permanent basis. Slimani is currently on World Cup duty with his country, where he has so far appeared as a second-half substitute in Algeria's opening match against Belgium. But it is his form for his club side that may have caught the eye, as he helped Sporting to a second-place finish in the Primeira Liga last season. The 26-year-old scored eight league goals in 26 appearances and set up four more, and while that is not exactly headline-inducing form, he could add something to a Hammers front-line in desperate need of additions. The latest report claims West Ham know they will have to pay at least €8million for the player whose current contract runs until the summer of 2017. Hammers fans keen to see him in action may be watching Sunday's match between Algeria and South Korea hoping Slimani gets more than 25 minutes to show what he can do this time.

Sam as "involved as ever" in transfer market
Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on June 22, 2014 in Whispers
Claret & Hugh

Manager Sam Allardyce has as big a say as ever in the Hammers transfer wheeling and dealing. Early summer showdown talks have given way to a three way "business as usual" process between co-chairman David Sullivan, vice-chairman Karen Brady and the manager. It was the boss who was the driving force behind the move to grab Cheikhou Kouyaté from Anderlecht. And it's the Allardyce list of players which is being worked to as the club continues in its bid to strengthen in all areas. Widespread cynicism the board would be moving in on Allardyce territory has been firmly dispelled. Many fans took the view that Sullivan and Gold were ready to leave the manager with greatly diminished powers after insisting on an attacking coach, new head of recruitment and adopting a more hands-on approach to signings. But co chairman David Gold put the position very much in perspective when making the situation between the main players clear. He said: "We had a very frank talk about everything at the end of season review and it's well known the board are taking a closer look at incoming players. "But obviously the manager remains as involved as ever in everything that's happening – it couldn't be otherwise. "We'll all be very happy when the transfer window is closed and we have done our business. In the meantime, all of us are working very hard on bringing in the right players."

West Ham hoping to beat Southampton to French left back Timothee Kolodziejczak
Kolodziejczak plays for Nice in Ligue 1
Southampton and QPR are interested in the £3m full-back
West Ham may also bid for Colombia right-back Eder Balanta
PUBLISHED: 22:53, 22 June 2014 | UPDATED: 22:53, 22 June 2014
Daily Mail

West Ham are hoping for a breakthrough in talks with Nice over left-back Timothee Kolodziejczak. The 22-year-old has been trailed by Southampton and QPR but is keen on West Ham and they hope to conclude a deal for around £3m. Kolodziejczak has represented France at every youth level up to U-20s, and has played over 70 games for Nice in the past two seasons. West Ham are also considering Colombia defender Eder Balanta, 21, who plays for Argentinian side River Plate.

Everton, meanwhile, hope to pip West Ham to free agent Gareth Barry after offering the option of a third year on his contract.

Irons seeking answers from 'big three'
Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on June 22, 2014 in Whispers
Claret & Hugh

West Ham are facing up to a dilemma involving three of their top players – Winston Reid, Ravel Morrison and Mo Diame. The club are deeply conscious that all three are currently in the last year of their contracts and could leave for nothing next summer. And whilst the pressure is on the club to sign top talent, they also needs to solve a situation which could see the club miss out on any profit for the trio should contract talks break down. Reid was signed in 2010 for around £2 million from Danish outfit FC Midtjylland whilst Morrison arrived for £850,000 from Manchester United and Diame on a free from Wigan Athletic.

Talks with Reid – whose advisory team are reported to want around £75k a week personal terms for their client- will get underway over the next couple of weeks whilst as reported on ClaretandHugh last week, a Morrison meeting is being lined up within the next 10 days.

And should neither come to an agreement with the club they are set to be put up for sale with a £7 million price tag on Reid's head and £5 million on Morrison's. Diame – who could link up in midfield with Sengalese team-mate Cheikhou Kouyate this season – still has the £3.5 million release clause in his current deal. A source told ClaretandHugh: "Obviously we will be in talks with all three players and until their attitudes become clear it's very difficult to say where we will go with it. "But if we find that the players want to let their contracts run down we would have little option but to put them on the market. "However, we are nowhere near that scenario at this stage – there is a lot of talking to be done."


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