Where should we strengthen?
By Stuart Gillespie
Updated Sunday, 28th June 2009
Eight players out, but just two players in. With the start of July and the end of contracts just a few days away, Mirren Mad takes a look at where the current Saints squad needs some improvement.The eight who have gone are Will Haining, Mark McAusland, Tonet, Ryan McCay, Gary Mason and Jim Hamilton, as well as loan pair Scott Cuthbert and Franco Miranda. So far, only Lee Mair and Michael Higdon have been brought in, leaving us with a pretty small squad. There's still over a month until the new season begins, so what should be top of Gus MacPherson's shopping list?
This wouldn't normally be an issue as we have Chris Smith and Mark Howard. However, Smudger is out until at least the end of the year and there are doubts over Howard's fitness. When Howard is fit, he has no competition for the next few months. Fortunately, this situation is something that seems to be under control, with Dunfermline's Paul Gallacher looking likely to sign sometime next week.
The recent departures have left us with just John Potter and Lee Mair in the middle of defence - and Potter's end of season performances don't exactly inspire confidence ahead of the new campaign. One new centrehalf is a must, two would be ideal to cover for injuries and suspensions and allow us to go with a back three and have a defender on the bench. David Barron and Jack Ross can play in the middle but it would be better to have two natural defenders. Motherwell's Brian McLean could fill one slot but there have been no rumours about anyone else - although a return for loan star Scott Cuthbert would be welcome.
We already have a leftback, he's just a bombscare. Unfortunately, it seems Mo Camara - and his high wages - is set to be with us for another 12 months, so strengthening this position of the team could be difficult. Negotiations are underway to bring Franco Miranda back permanently and he would be the ideal solution, but even Camara as backup is a worry - although Barron played there last season. Alternatively, what about a leftback who can also act as cover in central defence, a kind of inverse Ian Maxwell?
A pet peeve of Mirren Mad - the lack of a right winger. Aside from the Chris Birchall disaster, we haven't had one in years. Instead, central midfielders seem to get shunted out there and few seem to be able to perform well on a regular basis. A natural right winger is a must to supply decent crosses for new striker Michael Higdon and might stop Billy Mehmet drifting out to get the ball all the time. Few contenders for this role, aside from amusing rumours linking us with Gary Teale.
You might not be aware of this, but we actually have a left winger called Steven Robb. We also have another player called Tom Brighton, who can play on the left. If you've seen either of these two playing for Saints then do let me know. With their injury proneness, signing another left sided midfielder wouldn't be a bad move - although if Miranda returns he could play there, as can young Sean Burns. Nonetheless, Simon Lappin has been linked with a return and he can play in the middle as well.
Not quite so urgent as we have five, but with Craig Dargo and Brighton both being injury prone we could do with another, although we have Paul Quinn coming through from the youth team. Steve Lovell has been linked with a move after his departure from Falkirk, but he's almost as bad as Dargo for injuries.
Of that lot, a goalkeeper, two centrehalves and a right winger have to be the priority, with the left winger and striker falling into the "would be nice" category. Whether these issues are addressed in the next two months is anyone's guess.