Trio await contract news

Last updated : 27 January 2003 By Brian Cartlidge
Long-serving goalkeeper Ian Bennett, Australian winger Stan Lazaridis, and veteran defender Steve Vickers are all out of contract at the club this summer and none of them have been offered new deals yet.

Bennett, who returned to first-team action against Blackburn Rovers last weekend for his first League start of the season, told The B'ham Evening Mail earlier this week : "I've spoken to the gaffer about my contract and my agent has talked over a few things with Karren Brady, but nothing's been decided.

"I've not got a problem with that. There is no pressure to sign either way and the club are just having a look at the whole picture, as they are with others lads in the same situation."

Benno is in his testimonial year at the club, having been former manager Barry Fry's first signing in December 1993.

Meanwhile, Australian international winger Stan Lazaridis has admitted he may have to go in order to secure his long-term future.

Blues have a one year option on his services but cannot give him any immediate guarantees and both Sunderland and Leeds are believed to be showing an interest.

"I went in to see the gaffer Steve Bruce last week and he explained everything," Stan said this week.

"He's been brilliant to me all season, playing me in over 75 per cent of our games and I'm grateful to him for that.

"This whole thing comes down to circumstance. I've nothing against the gaffer, the owners, the fans or my team-mates for that matter.

"I'm facing one of those difficult issues that sometimes happen to footballers," he added.

"I'm a few months away from the end of my contract and I would love to stay here, I really like this club.

"At the same time, I understand that hands are tied because we don't know what division we'll be playing in next year."

Centre back Steve Vickers current deal also expires at the end of this season and Blues have not begun talks about a new deal with the 35-year-old either.

However, Vickers has said he is not worried yet about his uncertain future: "My contract is up at the end of the season. I haven't spoken to the manager about it or anything like that," he said.

"The club will decide whether they want to keep me or not. I don't worry about it anymore. When you reach a certain age you enjoy your football more and whatever will be, will be.

Vickers has had a frustrating season - niggling injuries limiting him to just six appearances so far.