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hoops won't break bank

MICHAEL O'NEILL has promised not to break the wage structure at Shamrock Rovers even though the Hoops are desperate to take the league title away from Bohemians next season.

Rovers, who finished runner-up to Bohs last season, are planning big changes to their squad for this campaign, with 11 players leaving (Padraig Amond, Barry Murphy, Ian Bermingham, Corey Tracey, Tadhg Purcell, Simon Madden, Ross Chisholm, Darragh Maguire, Shane Robinson, Robert Duggan and Barry Johnston).

So far the Hoops have only signed two new players, midfielder James Chambers and defender Enda Stevens, so more new arrivals are expected and O'Neill insists that Rovers will not go all-out to snap up the best talent available at any cost.


"We have a wage structure that we implemented when I came to the club and there is absolutely no way we will break that structure," O'Neill told the Herald.

"The club are comfortable with the financial structure we have, it suits us in that it meets the league's rules, and also that the team won't be a massive financial burden on the club overall," added O'Neill, who is not worried by the club's lack of inward movement on the transfer front.

"We have only two signings made so far and the two lads, James and Enda, are both very good young players. They both had a good season with their clubs last season and we hope they can do even better.

"We are looking to add four or five more players to the squad, but as things stand it's still a work in progress," he said.

"It's easy to find players, it's just not easy to find the right ones. There is no point in signing players for the sake of it, they have to be right for the club and the circumstances have to be right, they have to be right for the financial structure we have at the club.

"We let a few players go and we maybe had a few bodies too many at the club towards the end of the season. We need to get a few more in, but two or three players from our U20 team will step up to the senior squad and that will be good for everyone.

"The timing is not all that important. Last season we brought three players in on the last day of the transfer window. One of them was Gary Twigg and I think he turned out OK, so we'll see what we have in place when the window closes," added O'Neill, who assembles his squad for pre-season training next Friday.

Rovers chased Bohs for the league title until the second last weekend of the campaign and, as O'Neill pointed out, the Hoops' final tally of 73 points would have been good enough to win the title for many of the previous seasons.

Bohs have been weakened by the sale of Gary Deegan and Brian Murphy to English clubs, though Gypsies boss Pat Fenlon has brought in quality signings like Raff Cretaro, Ruaidhri Higgins and former Rovers keeper Barry Murphy, so O'Neill expects another battle this campaign.

"We pushed them to the second last day of the season last year so for us a stronger challenge this year would be for the league to go to the final day," he said.

"The league was very tight last season. We will have a strong squad again in the coming season. I can't comment on Bohemians, that's their own business, but my own focus is on building a team here."

Bohs were boosted by the news that manager Fenlon is staying on despite the offer from Dundee United, though O'Neill -- who played and managed in Scotland -- has also been linked with managerial posts in the SPL.

"That's not something I am focusing on now," he says of the links with Dundee United. "You can make all the plans in the world and they never come to light.

"My focus in management is always on the short-term, and right now my focus is on making progress with Shamrock Rovers."