Jun 12 2008 By Fraser Wilson
QUEEN'S PARK hope Paul Cairney and John Neill will agree new deals to help plug the gap in the midfield created by the departure of five of last year's engine room.
Stuart Kettlewell and Alan Trouten (Clyde), Mark Ferry (Raith Rovers), Steve Canning (Brechin City) and Paul Paton (Partick Thistle) have all left the Spiders after being offered deals at full time clubs.
So far, only the return of goalkeeper David Crawford has boosted the Queen's squad although boss Gardner Speirs has re-signed 12 of last year's side and promoted three of the sucessful under 19s.
Speirs says the midfield is the main priority for strengthening although he is hopeful that Neill and Cairney will put pen to paper soon.
He said: "It's been a case of making contact with a number of players and waiting for them to come back to me.
"We are looking at midfield players as we have lost a few of the squad from last year but I am hopeful two or three more will be re-signing.
"We are happy enough with the way things are shaping up. I hope to carry a squad of about 23 or 24 again."
Crawford's return, after a year at Dumbarton, is timely as keeper Mark Cairns has decided to hang up his gloves after an injury-plagued season.
Speirs added: "David is a good keeper who did well here a year ago and it is great to have him back at the club. He will vie for the jersey with Zander Cowie and Scott Murray who will also be staying on."
Also staying on at Hampden are defenders Damiano Agostini, Richard Sinclair, Jamie Brough Stevie Reilly and Martin Ure, midfielders Shaun Molloy, Tony Quinn, Andy Boslam and strikers Stuart McGrady and Robert Dunn.
Moving up from the under 19 team are midfielder Ross Dunlop, right sided midfielder Jack Henry and left sided player Barry Douglas.
Meanwhile Queen's have moved their preseason friendly with Queen of the South at Hampden to July 22 following their cancellation of the Partick Thistle friendly.
The Jags clash was called off after the two clubs drew each other in the first round of the SFL Challenge Cup to be played at Firhill on Saturday, July 26.