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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

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United's Abbott pledges squad will stay strong

CARLISLE United boss Greg Abbott has pledged his squad will be just as strong next season, even if more of his out-of-contract stars decide to quit the club.

af zoko 164 1
On his own: Fans’ favourite Francois Zoko is the only player to have snubbed United

Abbott is braced for further departures when he gets final answers from Lubo Michalik, Peter Murphy, Frank Simek, James Berrett and Tom Taiwo.

The Blues boss hopes the situation will finally be resolved over the weekend and has promised to update fans on Monday – but has already hinted that not all the five will be staying.

Yet Abbott also insisted that he is also ready to step up his bid to make new signings who will make United stronger. Talks with two potential new signings are at an advanced stage and Abbott said: “Come the first game of the season we will have a strong squad.

“The two players we have in mind will be decent players and give us strength.

“In the past Gary Madine, Danny Graham, Ian Harte, Richard Keogh, Keiren Westwood, Karl Hawley and Joe Garner have all gone out of contract and we have always managed during my tenure to come back and rebuild and have a squad that is capable of improving.

“The optimistic message is that we can come back – whatever the outcome of these contract negotiations – and we will have a squad that will yet again go and compete and cause people problems.”

Abbott plans to push through deals to bring in two new players next week regardless of whether the five out-of-contract players decide to stay.

Of the five, the biggest question mark hangs over Michalik, who has been linked with both Hibernian and Preston.

There is rumoured interest in other members of the undecided group, with Francois Zoko having already snubbed new terms and left the club.

Abbott had initially set the group a 30-day spell to make their decisions, which ran out on Thursday. But the Blues manager has extended the period over the weekend to finalise discussions.

Danny Livesey and young keeper Mark Gillespie are the only two players who have agreed new contracts so far this summer.

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