Trevor: We Must Keep Quartet

Trevor Brooking hopes that the quartet of Youth Academy products who played regularly last season will remain at the club next season.

That includes Joe Cole, currently on full England duty in South Africa with David James and Trevor Sinclair.

"Joe was very pleased to get called up to the senior squad and we are all hoping he gets a chance," says Trevor.

"It is quite a bizarre situation that we have gone down but ended the season playing well, and got three players in the England squad, not to mention players in the under-21s as well.

"Joe, Trevor Sinclair, and David James will all hopefully figure, and Joe wore his armband for the captaincy with a lot of pride.

"And, particularly when we played with three in midfield, he gave a much more mature and disciplined performance, not trying to beat the whole opposition, and releasing it at the right time.

"I think he learned a good deal, particularly in those last couple of games, and Sven saw some of his performances at the end of the season.

"It has given him the chance to be at least working in the squad, and if he gets in on the South Africa or other games then he will hopefully play well and force the issue about getting into the team."

As for next season, Trevor says of Joe: "From our point of view, again he is one of those we are going to have sit down with. We would like to think Joe has that feeling for the club and there will be discussions in the summer.

"All the academy players are the ones the fans would like us to keep, with young Glen Johnson coming through, Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe, and Joe - the quartet are ones we would like to retain if we are going to bounce back, but we will have to see how the summer progresses."

As for Michael Carrick and Jermain Defoe, Trevor adds: "Michael has had a little surgery now to resolve his injury and he seems totally focused on getting fully fit for pre-season.

"What he needs is a full season where he is not having injuries, and can play to show the ability we all know he has got.

"Michael hopefully is very much behind us and we will have to see what develops with Jermain after the early hiccup.

"We are certainly trying to persuade him because we need his 25 or 30 goals next season. If we have got that quartet kicking off with us at the start and the right nucleus around them, bringing in one or two others, it gives you the chance to make the start we all believe we have got to make."

Trevor believes that the first few weeks of the season will set the tone for the campaign and explains: "There are a lot of early matches, something like 10 in the first five or six weeks, so you have to start well - like Portsmouth did, and Leicester to a lesser extent - that will be good.

"I think Portsmouth were about seven or eight points clear after that little spell.

"We realise we are going to be the team everyone is going to want to beat - and hopefully that will be because we are at the top and not struggling."