Pearce expects Distin to stay at Eastlands

April 13, 2006

Stuart Pearce does not believe skipper Sylvain Distin needs any convincing to commit his future to Manchester City.

After Shaun Wright-Phillips' high-profile departure last summer, the impending loss of up to eight players once the current campaign reaches its conclusion and delicate discussions with Joey Barton still to resume, the last thing Pearce needs right now is to see his captain leave as well.

City turned down a £5million bid from Newcastle for Distin last year and are bound to receive plenty of inquiries should word spread the Frenchman was available.

However, despite reports Distin is desperate for European football - something his current club will not provide him with next season at least - the vibes Pearce gets suggests the 28-year-old is happy enough to commit his future to the Eastlands outfit.

'I have never had a problem with Sylvain and I have never even had a suggestion he wants to leave this club from either him or his representatives,' said Pearce.

'He hasn't mentioned European football to me but I would be disgusted if he had said he wasn't bothered about playing it. I want to be involved in European football, we all should. And we all should want to be playing in it at this football club.

'But the only ones who can do that are the players through their performances and results.

'If anyone did come up to me and say they wanted European football I would just tell them they needed to play a little bit better to get us there.'

Rather than lose players, Pearce is eager to bring some in. Simple mathematics suggests he is short on numbers and the depth of his squad will reduce still further once he has worked his way around the men whose services will not be required.

The Blues chief has refused to mention names, other than Finland international Tuomas Haapala, who never even got close to making a contribution at senior level following his arrival at the club in January.

However, David Sommeil, Mikkel Bischoff, Geert de Vlieger and Sun Jihai will all be sweating on their futures, while final decisions on loan duo Kiki Musampa and Albert Riera have still to be made.

'Since I have been manager of this club, 22 players have left and four have come in,' said Pearce.

'This summer, including a lot of young players, another eight will go. That is why we are working our socks off to bring more in.

'In an ideal world, we probably need more than four or five, although that is not a unique situation to us.

'Chelsea are probably going to win the league comfortably but they will still look to bring another three or four players in.'

However, while the planning for next season continues, Pearce's most pressing concern is ending a five-match losing sequence by gaining a positive result from FA Cup conquerors West Ham on Saturday.

City will try to achieve their objective without Barton, who has yet to fully recover from a knee injury, and Stephen Ireland, whose season appears to be over after he picked up a calf problem in training.

Claudio Reyna and Antoine Sibierski are battling to recover from thigh and calf problems respectively, although if neither make it, Pearce's midfield options will have been shredded.

The former England skipper's current difficulties are certainly a far cry from the heady days of two months ago, when Pearce was being touted as a serious contender to replace Sven-Goran Eriksson as national team boss.

At the time, Pearce claimed he was too much of a managerial novice to be considered and while it still seems likely he will be involved in the England coaching set-up in a part-time capacity next season, his odds on landing the top job have drifted to 33-1.

'Have they?' he remarked after being informed of his receding chances. 'It's funny really, last night I was watching Middlesbrough who have a manager who had a season ticket thrown at him by a fan a couple of months ago.

'Yet he has gone from 20-1 to being favourite. That is how crazy the game is. I am 33-1 but I wouldn't be tempted at those odds.'