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Korey exit would leave huge void

Reporter: Matthew Chambers
Date online: 29 April 2014

CAPTAIN Korey Smith has been “brilliant” this season says Athletic manager Lee Johnson - so much so he is expecting transfer inquiries in the summer.

Having already turned down one large bid for Smith (23), Johnson admits the player’s sale would leave a large gap to be filled for next season. Smith has another year on his contract.

As Johnson and club chairman Simon Corney meet today to discuss next season’s playing budget, the potential sponsorship deal from Sports Direct and a possible sell-on windfall from a move from Manchester City of Micah Richards could swell the amount Johnson has to play with.

“I know there has been solid interest in Smith from a number of clubs,” Johnson said. “He has been excellent all year for me. It would be very, very difficult to replace him.”

Johnson says he will hear a worst-case budget today, though Corney could loosen the purse strings if Athletic appear capable of mounting a challenge for the top six places in the division.

Johnson doesn’t consider the possibility too outlandish, given the team’s performances against high-fliers this year.

“We have beaten Wolves and Peterborough and played well against top sides,” said Johnson. “A lot of it is about strength off the bench too. At Brentford we dominated the game, but they made three substitutions that changed the game.”

Tonight’s penultimate league clash marks the end of the road for unchanged starting line-ups.

Athletic won’t field the same starting side for an eighth game in a row against visitors Sheffield United.

“We have got a couple of niggles and there will be one or two forced changes,” said Johnson.

“But I will be trying to put as strong a side out as I can to win the game.”

James Dayton is pushing for a start after his winning goal at Carlisle, who will be relegated tonight if they lose at Crawley. On-loan Preston man Joel Byrom could also get a start for the second time in an Athletic career so far curtailed by injury.


Possible and Potential .....need these two words to turn into actual £££'s

Preparing the ground for a Korey exit.....

I really hope the club keeps him because i feel next season we will have a better one. Their no rush in selling folks so please don't sell him off please. he been outstanding this season.

Lee Johnson if you can get big money for Korey Smith, get it because when his contract is up you won't get a penny for him and he won't be missed that much . Plenty of midfield players around than can fill the roll he plays, you keep saying there's over 850 players looking for clubs so how hard can it be to replace a no scoring midfield player. Wesolowski is the one we must keep and Dayton can go as well as he won't be hard to replace. Other grounds have outstanding players all season.

The writing is on the wall that Grounds and Weslowski are leaving given their absence on Tuesday, lets hope they get a chance to say goodbye to the fans on Saturday.

Without doubt Korey has been the leader of the team as he constantly want to act as the fulcrum of play but when he was short of fitness/carrying injury we struggled. Not sure if it will be a huge void I think having to resort to 1 front player indicates the lack of physical strength midfield. No more dwarves in midfield please!!!

Mason, you cant possibly have been to watch a game this season, Korey Smith has been absolutely outstanding !! Guess why there's 850 players looking for clubs, most arent good enough

Longtimefan if you think for one minute Korey Smith has been outstanding you've not watched the same games I've watched. No wonder we are struggling at the bottom all he ever does is pass side ways or back wards, nearly gave a goal a away on Saturday through passing backward gives the ball away too many times and two goals from a midfield player is simply not good enough, LJ's words about 850 players mate not mine.grounds are players we need to keep but he will leave for nothing as usual.


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