Sports Editor Tony Bugby brings us the latest from Oldham Athletic.
MANAGER LEE Johnson has kicked off the process of rebuilding Latics’ squad for the 2013/14 season.
And it looks as though it will be a summer of great change at Boundary Park where 18 players are out of contract.
Last season’s fans’ player of the year, winger Lee Croft and striker Matt Smith are the two most high-profile departures as have both turned down the offers of new contracts.
Club captain Dean Furman, who spent the latter part of the season on loan at Doncaster Rovers, is expected to complete a permanent move to the Yorkshire club.
Johnson had already released goalkeepers Dean Bouzanis and Liam Jacob, strikers Robbie Simpson and Daniel Taylor and winger Connor Hughes.
And with the futures of central defenders Jean-Yves M’voto and Cliff Byrne to be resolved – Byrne is being linked with a return to Scunthorpe – that could mean 10 players contracted from last season leaving as well as the loanees.
Johnson has already completed his first two signings as striker Jonson Clarke-Harris and winger James Dayton have become Latics’ first summer signings.
The 18-year-old Clarke-Harris, captured from Peterborough United for an undisclosed fee, would seem a ready-made replacement for Smith as he is also a big, physical striker.
He caught the eye of Johnson when he played on loan for Bury against Latics towards the end of the season.
Clarke-Harris was followed by wide player or James Dayton, a 24-year-old former team mate of Johnson at Kilmarnock.
Londoner Dayton, who was at Crystal Palace between the ages of 10 and 20, has spent the last three seasons in Scotland where his trademark has been scoring spectacular strikes including the 2011/12 goal of the season in the Scottish Premier League.
And with further signings imminent, it will be interesting to see how the squad takes shape and evolves under Johnson.