Whatever happens we'll add to squad'

Last updated : 12 April 2003 By Michael Morris

SAM Hammam has vowed to strengthen the Cardiff City squad for next season - whatever the outcome of their push for promotion.

He has promised he will lead the Bluebirds to Division One - even if they do not get up this season.

"This club will be promoted - I have no doubt about that and we are still in line for an automatic promotion place from Division Two," said owner Hammam.

"If we don't finish in the top two we will go up via the play-offs. If not we will go up next season, but, make no mistake, we are going up.

"The key factor for the future of Cardiff City is to get a new stadium and I believe that will happen. I am relaxed about that.

"If we don't go up this time, and I'm still convinced we will, then we will make enough changes to ensure we do next time.

"If we are promoted then we will make enough changes to ensure we can move from the First Division to the Premiership.

"As long as the stadium is there we won't be pulling any punches. I am not at all concerned - we are all totally focused.

"I've spoken to the players and they have total confidence. It was a freak that we missed out in the play-offs last season.

"We played so well over 15 games to make the play-offs and were so close to going up automatically.

"We beat Stoke away and were in control at home until the last minute. They were lucky in the extreme with the equaliser and their winning goal was a cruel blow.

"But we have learned from that experience and every player is supremely confident this season," he said.

Hammam has already spent more than £8m in transfer fees since he joined the club almost three years ago - and he's prepared to splash out more, although the prudent Lawrence will not spend unnecessarily.

The manager will have to trim the squad considerably from the 35 full professionals currently at Ninian Park. There are a number of players out of contract at the end of this season - Mark Walton, Gethin Jones, Tony Wallis, Martyn Giles, Leo Fortune-West, Fan Zhiyi, Lee Fowler (on loan from Coventry), Alan Mahon (on loan from Blackburn Rovers), Steve Jenkins and Gareth Ainsworth.

Lawrence already knows the players he wants if City go up, while he has a different shopping list should the Bluebirds miss out.