DEAN SAUNDERS insists he will not be held to ransom over players’ contracts.
Operating on a reduced budget next season, Saunders knows he must be prudent this summer to enable him to bring in the new signings, particularly in the positions he feels need addressing, if he is going to turn Wrexham into promotion challengers.
Some of the existing squad members are mulling over new contract offers, but others, including current Player of the Year, midfielder Andy Fleming, have rejected their deals.
Fleming was dropped from the Wrexham side for the last three games of the season after turning down the contract offer because he was not happy with the terms.
And while Fleming stressed he would like to stay at Wrexham but feels he deserves an improved deal, Saunders insists he won’t bow in to a player’s wage demands.
“I have given Andy four pay-rises since I have been at Wrexham,” said Saunders. “And when I came in, Andy wasn’t even in the team.
“Andy might be saying that he wants to stay – they all want to stay – but all we are doing is arguing about money.
“We can’t agree on the money with Andy and I have had a letter saying he is not signing.
“There is only so far I can go, I am not being held to ransom by anybody. I have made Andy an offer, which is another pay rise, but he has not accepted because he wants more money.
“If I gave every player what they wanted I would only have five players here. I make a player an offer – it is take it or leave it.”
Three new additions to the squad have already been made with Saunders completing the signings of centre-back Chris Blackburn, the versatile Nat Knight-Percival and midfielder Dean Keates.
Saunders wants to bolster his strike force to address last season’s poor goalscoring record and he is also eager to bring in a goalkeeper to replace Sam Russell, who has joined Darlington, as well as strengthen his squad in other areas.
Keates, Christian Smith and Kristian O’Leary, who is close to agreeing a new deal, would be the centre midfield options available to Saunders but he insists he has been left in limbo until Fleming either accepts his contract offer or reveals he is joining another club.
“It is still up in the air with Andy,” said Saunders. “I am just getting on with things as if Andy isn’t going to be here.
“I have to plan without Andy but it is causing me a bit of a problem.
“I am trying to plan for next season but Andy is liable to say he wants to sign but also liable to say he has got another club.”
Saunders revealed that left-back Aaron Brown has also rejected his new contract offer, while the Reds’ boss never expected defender Mansour Assoumani to stay because he couldn’t afford to keep the Frenchman.
Knowing he has got to balance the books, Saunders accepts he might have to make sacrifices in certain positions to allow him to complete the signings he craves in other areas.
“For me to get the players in that I need for areas where we are weak, I have got to be able to afford to bring them in so I have got to make cuts in other areas,” added Saunders.
“I have got to balance my budget.”