Grant sums up promotion challenge

CHRIS LAKEY Peter Grant has been doing his sums as he attempts to put together a side capable of challenging for promotion to the Premier League next season. It's not only financial calculations that Grant is taking into account with his team building programme.

CHRIS LAKEY

Peter Grant has been doing his sums as he attempts to put together a side capable of challenging for promotion to the Premier League next season.

It's not only financial calculations that Grant is taking into account with his team building programme.

The City boss wants:


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t Five or six new players

t A minimum of 73 points to reach the play-offs

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t A team of players who are all capable of playing more than 40 games a season.

“I have looked at the stats over the last six, seven years and I went through it all again last week and I look at all the appearances in the teams that have been successful and won it - and in most of the teams players have made over 40 appearances, right through the team,” he explained. “We have hardly had 20s and 30s because we kept changing it.

“But I have also looked at what it needs to be successful, from the play-offs to being champions, what it takes. It is 73, 74, 75 points to get into the play-offs, and you know the other ones, the points to make you champions.

“But within the team that have done that, the consistency and the number of people that have been available to them has been phenomenal. I am talking over 40 appearances from nearly every player, it is quite incredible, and we get nowhere near that.

“To do that and be able to do that you have to have a group that is available. Also, you have got to have a group that you can manoeuvre and change, and unfortunately we have had to change personnel.

“If somebody has been doing really well, maybe Hucks up through the middle, all of a sudden we get an injury on the left-hand side and it's, 'Hucks, you need to go back to the left-hand side again'.

“It is not injuries that have curtailed you, it is having to move somebody else's position, so we have to be much, much stronger in that department if we lose a player through injury.

“Also, I have to make the first team, the starting XI much stronger than it has been this season.”

While injuries have caused major problems for Grant this season, he believes a more balanced side with strength in depth is imperative - and that new players need to hit the ground running.

Grant axed five players this week, renewed deals with three more and is waiting for answers from another three. Should all three sign, it leaves him down to around 21 senior players, plus youngsters like Joe Lewis, Bally Smart, Andrew Cave-Brown and Patrick Bexfield.

“There are a lot of young boys in there,” said Grant. “I would like to bring five or six, quality to add to the group we have.

“You talk about the goalkeeping situation and that - there are a lot of things that have to be looked at. There is a lot of youth in there and youth is very important to me - we know how tough it is and what sort of players you need to win this championship.

“We need quality to come in here, ready-made players that are ready to come in and do the business from day one. We need to look at that as well, because we all want to be in the Premier League.”

Grant has long complained of an imbalance in the squad and says it still exists.

“Say if Simon Lappin was out we have no left-sider again,” he said. “If Adam Drury was out we were moving Simon back to left back so we were imbalanced again. Gary Doherty out - I use Dion Dublin as a striker and a centre back so Gary costs me two positions really when he is out injured, because Chris Brown wasn't available and it means I can't utilise Dion up front.

“It is not going to be straight up and down, we want to manoeuvre it, whether we want to play three at the back, whether we want to play four, and be able to do that with the personnel we have on the pitch. There are definitely things I am looking to change.”

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