Pearce calls for talks over City signings

He knows the players he wants but Blues manager still refuses to squander club cash
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The Independent Football

Darius Vassell has improved markedly on his final season at Aston Villa, while Andy Cole struck 10 goals in 23 games before a knee injury brought a premature end to his campaign.

Albert Riera is still to convince the majority of City fans he is worth an extended contract once his loan move from Espanyol ends in May. But the £6m forward Georgios Samaras has already become a hero among the Blues faithful with his unconventional style.

Pearce is looking to push the club further forward in an effort to ensure solid progress is not undermined by a succession of injuries, as has been the case this season.

"We know the players we want," said Pearce. "Now it is a case of having a chat with the chairman to see what is available financially and moving forward from there. I hope we will have a bit of money - then we might have to be cute with one or two Bosmans."

Pearce's refusal to squander City's cash, even after the £21m windfall received from Chelsea for Shaun Wright-Phillips, meant he went into the season with a pool of players fewer in number than most of his main rivals.

Although it did not seem to matter much as Pearce pushed his side to the brink of a top-six place, injuries and suspensions have begun to bite, and a run of four defeats in five games, including an FA Cup quarter-final loss to West Ham, has ripped the heart out of City's season.

"The injuries we have suffered lately have highlighted the fact we need to add some more quality to the squad," said Pearce. "Most of the other Premiership squads seem to have more options. We have the nucleus of a very good squad here, but it would be nice to add another three or four in the summer."

After missing out on a Uefa Cup spot following Robbie Fowler's injury-time penalty miss against today's opponents Middlesbrough on the final day of last season, City appear certain to fall just short again. Yet Pearce is convinced a combination of City's pulling power as a club, the opportunities available and - Joey Barton take note - the inherent fairness of the wage bill will allow him to attract the quality he requires.

"From the outside, this club is viewed as going forward," said Pearce. "It is important we maintain that. Wage wise, we pay the equivalent to any club of our size. Obviously, some of the bigger clubs in the Premiership will pay a touch more, but the overall package at City is fantastic.

"Most importantly, there is an opportunity for players of any age to break into our team. It is not a closed shop. The team is picked purely on ability - if I was a player I would like play here."

Middlesbrough's Emanuel Pogatetz misses today's game after suffering an horrendous facial injury in Basle. The Austrian broke his nose and a bone in his cheek, and although he was allowed to travel home when fears of a skull fracture were dispelled, he faces an operation and will miss the rest of the season.