Quick-fix signings could still be an option, admits Bristol City boss Derek McInnes
DEREK McInnes is not ruling out a quick-fix solution in a bid to save Championship strugglers Bristol City from relegation.
Charged with the task of reducing a spiralling wage bill and tackling debts that total £41 million in order to meet the requirements of Financial Fair Play, City's manager and board of directors have been forced to adopt a recruitment policy that represents a dramatic departure from what has gone before.
Gone are the days when the Robins are prepared to pay top dollar for expensive signings and McInnes has been told there can be no return to the levels of spending seen under previous managers Gary Johnson and Steve Coppell.
The Scot has bought into the new value-for-money strategy and a majority of his signings have been young players whose market value is likely to increase with time.
But City are engaged in an increasingly desperate fight for Championship survival for a second successive season and McInnes may be forced to divert from official club policy if he is to keep the Robins in the second tier.
Certainly, his strategy of recruiting experienced players on short-term loans paid dividends last season, most notably when Andre Amougou arrived from Burnley in March and helped City stave off the threat of relegation.
Desperate to bolster a defence that has failed to keep a single clean sheet in 26 games dating back to April 21, City's manager is again likely to rely on experience to haul his team clear of trouble.
While young players will continue to comprise a majority of City's permanent signings, McInnes is not ruling out raiding the loan market in pursuit of the know-how required to achieve safety between now and May.
"I think there is a place for good experience in key positions in every team," said McInnes.
"There also has to be an agenda and a plan for working with young, hungry players who are going to progress and, potentially, be good value and become assets for us.
"We have to try to make sure that players we identify and bring in are not only a short-term option, but good players who can be key performers for us for years to come.
"I think that is important. More often, you get better value for money with youngsters.
"But that is not always the case. You can pick up good, experienced ones as well that can help come in and balance up the squad."
In the market for at least one central defender, McInnes has been linked with Manchester United youngster Scott Wootton and Crawley centre-half Kyle McFadzean.
But he also wants to bring in a more experienced defender and Matthew Bates, whose short-term contract expires on January 16, is one option. Fellow centre-back Stephen McManus is set to return to Middlesbrough at the end of his loan spell on December 19 and could return if McInnes fails to land his other targets.
Keeping his cards close to his chest, McInnes said: "As people know, there are a few positions we need to address and that will mean some players moving on.
"January is a month in which we want to re-jig the squad with a couple coming in and a couple going out.
"It is a complicated situation and we are no different to a lot of clubs who are trying to bring players in."