Justin Edinburgh has confirmed he has held ‘in-depth talks’ with the out-of-contract players he wants to keep at Sixfields next season.
The Cobblers boss admits it has been a ‘difficult situation’ over the past few weeks, with the team’s Sky Bet League One future, as well as players’ futures, up in the air.
We are at advanced stages of talks with some and I think we had to be because they are good players and players we want to hold on toCobblers boss Justin Edinburgh
The team’s safety was finally secured last weekend and it means Edinburgh can properly prepare for the future, having always stated contract talks with the squad would have to wait until the team knew what division it was going to be in.
But the Town boss revealed he has already been working hard behind the scenes to persuade the players he wants to keep that their future lies at Sixfields - and accepts that may have caused some uncertainty elsewhere in the squad.
“It has been a very difficult situation, because I have had in-depth talks with the players,” said Edinburgh, ahead of Sunday’s final game of the season against Gillingham at Sixfields.
“There is no doubt some will know about that, because they will hear and players will talk, I understand that.
“It was a very, very difficult situation that I was put in, and had to be put in, because there are some very good players at the club that I want to keep here.
“I had to make that known to them, which would then for sure filter down to the others, and some are not going to stay, so that has been a difficult scenario.
“We are at advanced stages of talks with some, and I think we had to be because they are good players and players we want to hold on to.”
The players whose deals are up this summer are Adam Smith, Zander Diamond, John-Joe O’Toole, Marc Richards, Neal Eardley and Emmanuel Sonupe, while there are clauses or options to be discussed following the completion of the initial one-year deals signed by Paul Anderson, Matt Taylor and Gaby Zakuani.
With the players out of contract becoming free agents from July 1, it could well be some of them are key targets of other clubs, and Edinburgh said: “That is what we had to move swiftly.
“I wanted them to know what I thought of them, what we thought of them as a club, and what we are trying to achieve next season.
“We had to do that, and it hasn’t been easy because there are other players that are going to know that unfortunately are not going to be a part of what we are planning on achieving next season.”
As well as dealing with the situation regarding out of contract players, Edinburgh has also hinted that some of the 12 players under contract for next season are going to be surplus to requirements as he prepares for a major rebuilding job this summer.
Following the 3-0 loss at Bury last weekend, Edinburgh said ‘a lot will go’, and everything will become a little clearer following the announcement of the retained list next week.
“I wanted to give myself an opportunity to see as many players as I could in first team action, and barring one or two I have pretty much accomplished that,” said Edinburgh, who has given game time to every squad member, aside from the injured Sam Hoskins and Raheem Hanley, who hasn’t played since the 1-0 FA Cup defeat at Stourbridge on December 13.
“My decision (on the squad) will be a clear one, and it will be a fair one in my opinion, although that is not everyone else’s and I get that.
“It will be a decsion I will have made having seen everyone in first team competition.”
Cobblers squad situation for 2017/18
Under contract: Cornell, Buchanan. Moloney, McCourt, Hanley, Beautyman, McDonald, Hoskins, Revell, Lobjoit, McWilliams, Phillips
Players with contract clauses/options: Taylor, Zakuani, Paul Anderson
Players out of contract: Adam Smith, Diamond, O’Toole, Richards, Eardley, Sonupe
Loan players to return to parent clubs: Nyatanga, Michael Smith, Keshi Anderson, Boateng, Wylde, Williams