Football: Lennon issues exodus threat

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The Independent Online
THE LEICESTER CITY midfielder Neil Lennon has said there could be a mass exodus of players from Filbert Street after their Worthington Cup final defeat by Tottenham.

The Northern Ireland international said it was now "inevitable" that players out of contract this summer such as Kasey Keller, Rob Ullathorne and Pontus Kaamark would leave. Kaamark has already agreed a move back home to Sweden with AIK Stockholm because he is homesick and missing his six-year-old daughter.

In addition, Lennon himself and the striker Emile Heskey have only one more season to run of their contracts while, at the other of the scale, the skipper Steve Walsh and Tony Cottee are now veterans.

Yesterday he urged the board to invest money to strengthen the squad after claiming promises made to him when he signed a new contract this season about bringing in talent had not been kept.

"Sunday could have been the swan-song for a few of the lads. It is a worry that the side might break up - and I think it is inevitable that a few of the lads are going to leave now," he said. "It will be a massive blow if we lose players of the calibre of Keller and Ullathorne but, even if we had won the cup, I'm not so sure these guys would have stayed.

He added: "We'd have had Europe as a carrot, but we are not exactly going to win the Uefa Cup and these lads are considering their futures. We need those players, we really do, because the squad is already thin enough.

"To lose that calibre of player for nothing will be a big blow," he added. "The club have got to invest money in players. If you look at Wimbledon they have gone and spent pounds 7m on a player [John Hartson from West Ham]. That's what we are up against."