Stars available

Football's unemployment lines will be getting longer this summer, writes David Vincent.While veterans like Everton goalkeeper Nigel Martyn and striker Teddy Sheringham, at promoted West Ham United, continue to defy the march of time in the Premiership, cost-cutting in the lower leagues is seeing the dressing room doors closing on many younger careers.

Football's unemployment lines will be getting longer this summer, writes David Vincent.

While veterans like Everton goalkeeper Nigel Martyn and striker Teddy Sheringham, at promoted West Ham United, continue to defy the march of time in the Premiership, cost-cutting in the lower leagues is seeing the dressing room doors closing on many younger careers.

Many of those who have not been offered new deals by their clubs, and are out of contract, face an anxious wait to see if they can earn a contract by going on trial when pre-season training begins next month.

The Professional Footballers' Association website lists 442 players, mostly available as free transfers or for small fees as former Academy trainees.

Some are gambling that they can get more money by moving clubs on a Bosman free transfer, but others face an uncertain future.

Clubs in the lower leagues are running on smaller squads to save money.

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Even in the Premiership Chelsea, Arsenal and Newcastle United are shipping out stars seen as surplus to requirements, with the likes of Laurent Robert and Scott Parker set for summer moves.

And that means many lesser players, not even on this PFA transfer list, are also available for a token fee to get them off the wage bill and free a shirt number for a new signing.

Sheffield Wednesday were happy to see £1million striker Shefki Kuqi leave, when Ipswich Town signed him in 2003, in order to save his salary.

The official PFA 442 includes many players familiar to East Anglian fans.

They include two of last season's disappointing Town loan signings, James Scowcroft and Daniel Karbassiyoon, as well as defender Drissa Diallo and young Scottish midfielder Fraser Beveridge, who have been released by Town.

Beveridge played in Town's winning FA Youth Cup run, though not in the final itself.

There are forwards like Bruce Dyer of Watford, Tes Bramble at Southend United and Kevin Rapley at Lincoln.

Among the 50 goalkeepers are Shaka Hislop, Canadian Lars Hirschfield, Kevin Pilkington and Kevin Poole.

And there are dozens of defenders and midfield players including former Town defender Gary Croft, Mo Camara and Craig Short.

One of the best dealers in the transfer market is Alan Curbishley at Charlton Athletic.

He caught Wigan Athletic and Sunderland on the hop with the swiftness of his raid on Portman Road.

Having already landed Darren Bent from Town for an initial £2.5million, he wants to bring in three or four more signings.

Getting one of the best young midfield players in the country for £1.5million would suit him well.

He looks likely to rescue England Under-21 star Darren Ambrose from Newcastle United.

Although Ambrose hasn't been listed, and he had a strong final phase of the season scoring a couple of spectacular goals, the possible arrival of Parker from Chelsea will herald his departure.

Ambrose spent most of last season warming the bench, although he scored three goals in 18 appearances, and Newcastle manager Graeme Souness says he will be a squad player again next season.

If Ambrose joins Charlton it could mean four members of George Burley's Town team re-united in their starting XI - Bent, Ambrose, skipper Matt Holland and Hermann Hreidarsson.

Bent cost £2.5million, Holland just £750,000 and Hreidarsson an initial £500,000.

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