Nigel Pearson’s verdict on Mark Sykes and Bristol City’s retained list

The 58-year-old discussed Bristol City’s imminent arrival as well as their major outgoing

<p>Nigel Pearson was coy on Mark Sykes’ arrival but spoke honestly about Callum O’Dowda’s departure. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)</p>

Nigel Pearson was coy on Mark Sykes’ arrival but spoke honestly about Callum O’Dowda’s departure. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)

Nigel Pearson says Mark Sykes is a player that ‘ticks the boxes’ of what Bristol City are identifying in prospective new players.

Sykes is closing in on a move to Ashton Gate after undergoing a medical ahead of a three-year deal with the Robins.

The 24-year-old is joining on a free transfer after deciding to leave Oxford United after three seasons,

Sykes, a midfielder who can also play as a wing-back was scouted by Pearson and his assistant Curtis Fleming last month and he has pushed ahead to make him his first signing of the summer transfer window.

Whilst remaining as coy as ever until official confirmation of the deal, Pearson spoke publicly about his newest recruit whilst also remaining respectful until the deal is formally done.

“We know the types of players that we want in,” said Pearson on BBC Radio Bristol’s Sound of the City with Geoff Twentyman.

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“We want people to come in and have something to prove and are ambitious. Certainly Mark Sykes ticks those kind of boxes, but until it’s officially released I’m not going to comment further.”

Karl Robinson’s comments seem to be him consigned to seeing Mark Sykes leave the club. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

As Republic of Ireland international Sykes sets to join the club, his countryman Callum O’Dowda has left after six years of service.

The 27-year-old played a smaller role this season after a knee injury hampered him and he ended up not playing since February. He had recovered and got himself back into consideration but wasn’t considered for selection in the last few games when made available.

O’Dowda, who was at the same club as Sykes, Oxford, before joining City in 2016, has not had his contract renewed by the club.

There had been suggestions in the media that he could remain on reduced terms from the three-year deal he signed in 2019, but now he will move on and seek a new challenge.

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Social media reports from Cardiff City website ‘The Canton End’ claim that the Bluebirds are interested in him.

‘It’s just time for a change,” said Pearson when asked on why they chose to part with one of their longest serving players.

“I think Callum has been here for six years. He goes with our best wishes. He is a really good lad, but it’s time for change. It’s time for a shift in a different direction, it’s as simple as that.”

City’s retained list didn’t throw up many surprises and announced they were in discussions with Timm Klose and Robbie Cundy, as well as Andy King and youth goalkeeper Will Buse.

Klose was ever present after joining on a free transfer back in January whilst Cundy after a long wait for his first-team debut after joining in 2019, became a regular at the back end of the season.

There was some hesitance given Cundy’s issue with injuries whilst Klose is currently in discussions with his agent on the offer on the table from the club.

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“We don’t tend to put time limits on because sometimes it can be an issue in itself,” said Pearson. The bottom line is I will and we will move on if things aren’t done.

“In terms of Timm and Robbie, well Robbie has had his issues with injuries. In some ways that one is a risk but I think he deserves it. He deserves a contract. And with Timm, those offers are out there, but I’m sure him and his agent are looking over it to make sure it is the right thing for them.

“We’ve made our intentions clear to the players we would like to retain, the ball is in their court. With the time scale, we would like to get things agreed sooner rather than later. If not we’ll start looking elsewhere but we’ve got other options.”

As well as those who are out of contract, there are some players who have further to go on their deals that have been told to seek alternative plans for the new season.

There are players like Kasey Palmer for example who whilst unnamed, was not part of the first-team picture this season.

The 25-year-old was limited to just six appearances this season and didn’t play a league game from November onwards, with his last outing an FA Cup cameo appearance against Fulham.

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He his in contract with City until 2023, as is Tyreeq Bakinson and Taylor Moore who spent part of the season just gone out on loan.

The manager was also keen to reiterate his desire to keep Nahki Wells at the club, despite playing a bit-part role this season following the form of Antoine Semenyo, Chris Martin and top scorer Andi Weiman.

Pearson said: “I’ve spoken to four of our players who are in contract next season who aren’t part of my plans … and Nahki Wells isn’t one of them before you ask!”

“I’d love Nahki to stay with us. There are players in our squad who have another year on their contracts who have been told that their future is not with us.

“It is in their interest to find themselves something else.  They are contracted to us, we have an obligation and a duty of care to all of our players.

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He added: “If they are going to stay then they stay it is as simple as that. I can’t guarantee them any pitch time. All I’m saying is that some players need to make career decisions.

“If it’s about staying put and just picking the money up it’s up to them. It’s something we don’t encourage and I think it’s important we honour contracts. It’s vitally important I am up front with players as possible.

“It’s in their interests career wise where they are going to be somewhere where they are part of their plans. We don’t neccessarilly want to be paying players off to leave but of course that is an option.”