Although not confirmed yet it is widely expected we'll be kicking off next year in England's third tier aka League 1. What comes with this is a massive loss in revenue (£5 million) and thus an inability to hand out new contracts to all but the cheapest players: The young ones
Mark Davies, Jay Spearing, Liam Feeney have all been told to move along with the same expected for the likes of David Wheater.
A couple have impressed on loan and a couple have impressed here, so with a complete revamp of the squad needed, how much could we draw from our own talent pool? Following on from Rob's 'Will they stay or will they go, looking at the players who could/should depart Wanderers at the end of the season, I have a look at how next years squad could look.
GK: Ben Amos, 25
I'm almost certain we'll get offers for him this summer and we should really accept due to our lack of players who could command a fee. If he is still here however, I'll be more than happy with him between the sticks. Sure he's had his suspect moments this year, but for League 1 he'd be more than adequate.
RB: Hayden White, 20 *
The pacey, strong right back has really impressed out on loan at Blackpool. Our own Liam O'Meara recently watched him play against Bradford City and had this to say:
"All the basics are there, White is tall and uses it to good effect. His most prominent athletic ability is his pace, Hayden White is very fast and causes also sorts of problems when he wants to.
Hayden White is shaping up to a real quality fullback. The Wanderers loanee was genuinely solid in defence and Bradford all but abandoned attacking down their left due to the dominance of White in that area."
By the sounds of it he'd be perfect in a position we've had no end of trouble filling. He's out of contract though, Sports Shield will have to act quickly.
CB: Rob Holding, 20 *
This goes without saying really. So long as his contract gets tied up he'll be a shoe in to start for us next year. He's assured on the ball and copes well with the physicality of the Championship. He'll be a big player for us next year. Recent reports are linking Premiership clubs with Holding so we're going to have an uphill battle to keep this soon to be free agent.
CB: Derik, 23
Debatable if the former Real Madrid man will hang around when we're in League 1 given he's had offers in his native Spain to go back on loan. If he is still here, he'd be my favourite to partner Holding in defence. Wheater will need to go with his wage and Dervite...we'll ignore him.
LB: Dean Moxey, 30
Another I'd be surprised at if we didn't lose. He's had more than his share of experience at this level and has been one of our better players this year. We'll need the like of him if we are to have such a young team.
RM: Kaiyne Woolery, 21 *
Oh great, another one out of contract. The non-league import has been a mini-revelation this year and has been one of the few bright sparks of the last few games under Lennon. If we can keep hold of him I would be shocked if he wasn't starting next year. A summer of pre-season under his belt and he'll be ready to go.
CM: Oscar Threlkeld, 22 *
Despite breaking through at Wanderers the previous season, he was sent on loan to Plymouth Argyle this year to continue his footballing education. He has really impressed for the League 2 promotion chasers; starting at right back but eventually switching to defensive midfield where he really shone. He won the League 2 player of the month for his performances there, not beyond the realms of possibility that he'll make the step up to League 1. Oh and out of contract.
CM: Josh Vela, 22
We might well lose him to a Championship bidder but if not you'd assume he'd be a regular for us next year. Combative, good range of passing and good stamina, he'll succeed in that League. Think this year has really taken a tole on him and the negative atmosphere seems to have stifled his progress. I think we'll see the player we thought he might be next year.
LM: Tom Walker, 20
God knows why he was dropped by Lennon but he's a shoe in to start next year. Certainly good enough to be a starter in League 1 for us with his great crossing and goal threat from the midfield.
ST: Zach Clough, 21
Under contract and hopefully will recover his form with the dawn of a new year. Clough was perhaps over-hyped when he first burst on to the scene but there is definitely a player capable of playing at the top in there. If he stays fit and has a decent partner than he'll be our 15-20 goal a season striker.
ST: Gary Madine, 25
Still in contact and a decent return in his League 1 career. We'd do well to find someone to compete with him (not Heskey) but I cannae see us affording much better for League 1.
Any Substitutions? :
Jamie Thomas *
Another who could walk away this year, the striker could certainly play a big role next year if he stays. He'd certainly be a good substitute option for Clough.
He's impressing a lot of people who watch the U21's. Made the bench a few times this year and certainly looks to have enough about him to challenge the regular centre backs.
I really rate this lad. While Thomas and Samizadeh have been getting all the headlines, this lad has been quietly putting goals away. He has made the step up to the U21's despite only just turning 18. Certainly could play himself in to reckoning next year.
Alex Samizadeh *
If he stays (he wont) he'll be very near the first team next year. His stats speak for themselves and he looks to be so comfortable on the ball. Sports Shield would do well to tie him down.
Although I suited the formation to fit the younger players here, it really isn't a huge stretch of the imagination to see a team like this to be lining up next year. This 11 would have an average age of 22.6! Such a shame you don't win anything with kids.
Average age of possible 11 = 22.6 (*) = Out of contract