Iron boss looks to recruit up to six new faces as 10 are released
Scunthorpe United will be looking to recruit up to six new faces during the summer.
Having announced on Wednesday that 10 players will not have their contracts renewed when they expire in the summer, Iron manager Alan Knill has revealed he will look to operate with a reduced first-team squad of 'around 20' next season.
Club captain Cliff Byrne, Sam Togwell, Garry Thompson, Eddie Nolan, Michael O'Connor, Andrew Wright, Josh Lillis, Jordan Robertson, Ashley Palmer and Aron Wint were those to be told they have no future at United.
That leaves only 14 players under contract for the 2012/13 campaign, though the task of supplementing those numbers has already begun.
Knill has started meeting potential signings, with Rochdale full-back Joe Widdowson and former Grimsby Town and Barnsley midfielder Michael Coulson thought to be two of his main targets.
The manager has also confirmed contact has been made with the agent of Christian Ribeiro, who spent part of this term on loan at Scunthorpe.
The Scunthorpe Telegraph understands the Iron boss has been closely monitoring Lincoln City goalkeeper Joe Anyon and Stevenage midfielder Joel Byrom during the second half of the season, though it is not clear whether that interest will be followed up.
"We're looking to have a squad of around 20 players next season," the Iron boss told the Telegraph.
"Every manager tries to get 16 or 17 that he thinks are proper players that can go straight into the first team, and then work with some younger players around that. We'll be no different.
"Salary capping in League One has a big influence and you can see a lot of clubs will be running smaller squads.
"It's not one or two players that are being released, it's into the 10s and 12s. Everybody seems to be in the same boat.
"Now the difficult thing is that the players out of contract, or being released, we're all going for the same ones.
"It's up to me to try to persuade those players to come and play for Scunthorpe."
Of those players departing this summer, Knill said the decision to release Byrne had been the most difficult.
The Irishman has become part of the furniture at Glanford Park, playing more than 300 first-team matches and skippering the club to victory at Wembley in the 2009 League One play-offs.
He has been offered a benefit game in recognition of his 'commitment and desire' during nine immpeccable years' service to Scunthorpe.
Of the other players to be released, the Iron boss said Togwell, O'Connor and Thompson had asked to leave the club.
"Tuesday was a difficult day if I'm going to be honest," Knill added.
“Some decisions were easier because the players made it easy for me by saying they didn’t want to stay. Others though were much more difficult.
“Togs (Togwell) had made up his mind he wants to try to move back down south, Micky (O'Connor) more-or-less wants to move on and Thommo said exactly the same, that maybe a fresh challenge would benefit him.
“Really it was Cliff that was the most difficult decision, but Jordan Robertson and Eddie Nolan were tough ones, too.
“Cliff has been a fantastic servant to Scunthorpe, though unfortunately I’ve only seen a fraction of the amount of games he’s played.
“It was important for me that he played and also important for Cliff that if we made the decision we were going to go a different way, he could prove to everybody he was fit.
“It was very difficult, but I knew the club were going to him Cliff a benefit game as recognition of what he’s done and what he represents.
“He’s had nine years at Scunthorpe and not many players spend nine years at one football club. It’s important the service he has given the club is recognised.
“We’ve tried to give everybody a fair chance, but the budget is coming down. Some of the things we’ve had to do were enforced because wages were too high.
“It’s one of those things. If you’ve got to reduce the budget, it falls on the players that are out of contract."