O'Neill: Time Will Tell on Garbutt Return
Friday, 10th Jul 2020 09:58
General manager of football operations Lee O’Neill says Town would love left-back Luke Garbutt to return to the club on a permanent basis and that the 27-year-old’s situation will be monitored.
Garbutt spent a successful spell on loan with the Blues in 2019/20 before being released by parent club Everton after 11 years at Goodison at the end of the campaign.
O’Neill says the Blues are interested in the Harrogate-born full-back returning but admits money could be an issue with Garbutt reportedly being paid £27,500 a week by the Toffeemen. Further to that, TWTD understands Championship clubs watched him regularly during his spell with the Blues.
“There’s no secret in the fact that he was on Premier League money, so for us to achieve anywhere near what he would possibly like going forward is going to be quite hard for us,” O’Neill said.
“But he is a player that we brought in on loan, he did fantastic for us, we really like him and we would love to have him at the club.
“Whether we can get to some kind of agreement, only time will tell. I’m sure he is waiting for options as well, to see what comes his way off the back of a good season.
“I think it’s one we’ll definitely monitor and we’ll try and do the best we can to get the player secured, but I don’t know is the answer to that. A lot determines what happens over the next few weeks.”
Town have recently been linked with one or two other players, largely strikers, who would certainly cost money and O’Neill says the club’s ability to pay fees ahead of the new season will also depend on developments in the weeks to come, but admits it’s going to be difficult.
Like other clubs, the Blues have been badly hit by the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and it seems likely that most of their business will be free transfers this summer with plenty of players expected to be available in that market at League One level as sides look to cut costs.
“I think a lot of those things will depend on what happens over the next few weeks,” O’Neill said when asked if Town might be in a position to pay fees this summer.
“I think some decisions for us [will depend on knowing] whether we’ve got the potential ability to get some revenue back from games and fans coming back to the stadiums, what happens with the season ticket compensation, whether the finance is there to be able to do it.
“It’s going to be difficult, there’s no doubt about it. It’s supply and demand, I think there’ll be a lot of players out of contract and there’ll be a lot of players who have had their contracts terminated. There’ll be more players out there than there were this time last year.”
Fans expressed concerns earlier in the week when it was reported that Swindon striker Eoin Doyle had opted to join League Two Bolton Wanderers having held talks with the Blues. However, O’Neill says Town never showed interest in the 32-year-old Irishman.
“We’ve never had any conversation regarding Eoin, that was a lot of speculation,” he said. “We get drawn into a lot of speculation with a lot of players, us and a number of other high profile clubs in League One.
“Eoin’s a good player and he did very well at Swindon this year and good luck to him with his move to Bolton but it was not a move that we were looking at from our point of view.
“We have a recruitment team and we are working on our particular targets. Just because we get linked with a particular player it doesn’t mean it’s always true.”
O’Neill says he anticipates the Blues being similar mentioned in connection with plenty of players over the course of the next few weeks.
“We always do, most of the time it’s not true but we do get linked with them because we’re actively looking at what options we have and where we can strengthen in certain areas of the pitch,” he said.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to be in a bidding war with another team and they choose another team, a lower club over us. It might be the situation that we’ve never made an offer for that player so he’s never considered us, that’s why he chose the other club.”
Among the free transfers linked with the Blues has been former Northampton keeper David Cornell with Town likely to be in the market for another number one with loanee Will Norris having returned to Wolves.
“I’m not going to through individual players, it’s not fair. We get linked with everyone, we honestly do,” O’Neill continued when asked about links with Cornell which go back to December.
“Cornell had a great season at Northampton, he’s a player we’re aware of 100 per cent, we know about him.
“At the moment though we’re trying to look at our own options, we’ve got Tomas Holy, who is itching to get back in and play games for us, and we’ve got two young goalkeepers [Adam Przybek and Harry Wright] that we’re currently looking at and we’re assessing where they’re at.
“It would be unfair to say we’re commenting on this or looking at bringing in another goalkeeper at this moment in time when we’ve got three that we’re assessing.”
With new signings expected to come in and with the squad already one of the largest in the division, it’s inevitable that some players will need to be offloaded this summer. However, given the lack of money in the game at present, that might not be easy, particularly if Town try to move on some of their higher earners.
“I never like the word offloading because it’s not as easy as just doing that,” O’Neill said. “Every player that comes through this door wants to play football in that starting XI on the Saturday, and they don’t want to sit in the stand and they don’t want to be part of the squad and just make up the numbers.
“I think it’s both parts, there’ll be a situation where the club maybe feels they’re more a valued asset to the squad and they maybe feel they want to start, and that’s where you get the issue sometimes.
“For those players who are not starting every week, it might be that some of them have to move on for their own personal reasons because they want to play football.
“We have to look at everything. We’ve got a big squad, we need to try and make sure we can look at options to bring players in but we can’t do that necessarily with a big squad. We’ll review that situation and work with players.”
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