Decisions needed on defensive trio at Bristol City
New Bristol City head coach Sean O'Driscoll must decide whether to keep defenders Stephen McManus, Matthew Bates and Mark Wilson or show them the door.
Signed on short-term deals by Derek McInnes earlier this season, all three face uncertain futures after the Scot was relieved of his duties as manager last weekend.
Appointed on Monday, O'Driscoll has asked for time to run the rule over the trio and has been assessing them in training this week – and he is expected to make a final decision in the next day or so.
Signed on loan from Middlesbrough in October, McManus has made nine appearances for the Robins and was due to return to the north east today.
17th Edition 8 way fuse boards prevent fires & improve electrical safety. Save £28 on 8 way fuse boards for a limited time only with A & D Electrical.
Terms: Bristol and Bath areas.
Contact: 0117 2448240
Valid until: Monday, May 20 2013
Unless O'Driscoll decides to ask Boro boss Tony Mowbray to sanction a new loan deal, the central defender will remain at the Riverside.
Recruited as a free agent by McInnes in August, Wilson was out of contract last Sunday. Although O'Driscoll might yet offer the ex-Celtic right-back a new deal, the expectation is that he will leave Ashton Gate to find another club.
Bates was brought in on a short-term contract in November and his current deal expired yesterday. Having turned down an offer to stay at Middlesbrough at the start of the season, the former England Under-21 centre-half has proved his fitness after long-term injury and is hoping to earn an extended stay in the West Country.
McInnes was due to hold talks with all three on Monday, but things changed when he lost his job following defeat to Leicester on Saturday.
O'Driscoll may be close to capturing the signature of Crawley defender Kyle McFadzean, but the fact the former Sheffield United trainee will not be fit for several weeks, is sure to influence his short-term thinking.
Should Bates and McManus depart before the weekend, O'Driscoll will be left to select from centre-backs Liam Fontaine, James Wilson, Louis Carey and Lewin Nyatanga for Saturday's Championship clash against Leeds at Elland Road.
O'Driscoll, though, insists he will not be panicked into making signings during the January transfer window.
Bottom of the Championship and six points adrift of safety, the Robins are in urgent need of new recruits if they are to retain their Championship status this season.
O'Driscoll is prepared to bide his time if he has to and utilise short-term options when the window for loan signings reopens in February.
He said: "I think the transfer window is a bit of a red herring in the Championship.
"We have the loan window afterwards and it is not like in the Premier League, where you have to do all your business in one part of the season. What we cannot do is recruit players for the sake of recruiting players, just because I can. They have to be the right players for the situation we are in.
"That might be a permanent signing, it may be a loan signing and that is something we have to decide on quite quickly. There are already some things in place and the club has gone down a certain line. I will have to have a look at that."
Having gone up against the Robins while in charge at Doncaster and Nottingham Forest, O'Driscoll has a good knowledge of the players he has inherited from previous manager Derek McInnes – and he does not envisage making major changes as he plots a route to safety in the weeks ahead, preferring to try to get the best from those players at his disposal.
He said: "I happen to think, with one or two additions, the squad here are as good as anything in the division.
"When I was at Nottingham Forest, we played Bristol City in the first game of the season and there was a hair's breadth between the two teams.
"We got a goal on the counter-attack to win the game, but a draw would probably have been a fair result.
"That made me think there was ability in the squad as well, which attracted me. There is a feeling among the people I have spoken to, that staying in this division is a distinct possibility. There is a will to do it. Nobody is resigned to the fact."
Meanwhile, City's search for a new assistant coach is unlikely to yield results before the trip to Leeds.
O'Driscoll has made no secret of his desire to bring in someone to work alongside him at Ashton Gate.
Although the 55-year-old was hoping to have someone in place by the time he took charge of his first game, it now looks as though he will have to wait until after the weekend. The club are talking to people on a short-list compiled by O'Driscoll and the board.