Birmingham boss Alex McLeish admits he faces a battle to hold onto some of his players despite being assured his own job is safe following relegation from the Barclays Premier League.
The Blues board acted within 24 hours of the 2-1 defeat at Tottenham, which confirmed their fate, to state McLeish is the man they want to lead them out of the npower Championship.
But there is no doubt McLeish will have a very different squad at his disposal when the Championship campaign gets under way in August after the loss of around £25 million in revenue via relegation. McLeish said: "I will speak to them. There are one or two that are out of contract and we have to decide what is happening."
He added: "Some of the guys will have other options and we appreciate that. The fact is we are in the Championship and not the Premier League and I'm sure they'll have choices. It's tough on us to be relegated but we don't lie down and bury our heads in the sand. We've got to get on with the next challenge. We've got to show leadership."
The likes of Sebastian Larsson, Kevin Phillips, Martin Jiranek and Lee Bowyer are at the end of their current contracts. Alexander Hleb, David Bentley, Matt Derbyshire and Obafemi Martins will return to their parent clubs after loan spells.
Ben Foster, Roger Johnson, Scott Dann, Cameron Jerome and Nikola Zigic could be targets for Premier League predators. McLeish led City to promotion in his first full season, their ninth-place finish in 2009-2010 was their highest in the top flight and this season they lifted the Carling Cup.
But the statement from acting chairman Peter Pannu makes it clear that regaining Premier League status in 2011-2012 is of paramount importance.
Pannu told bcfc.com: "The board regrets Sunday's result and subsequent relegation and feels that supporters, who have continued to back us magnificently, have been let down. The club can confirm that manager Alex McLeish's job is safe but that the board will expect him to lead the side back to the Barclays Premier League in the 2011-12 season."
Pannu added: "The board will take stock of what went wrong this season despite Carson Yeung's promised injection of £40million in funds - not £80m as the media wrongly assumed. The board will closely discuss and implement appropriate procedures to ensure a speedy return to the top flight.
"Finally a word for our terrific supporters, who are no doubt feeling the pain today like everyone else connected with the club. We thank you for your tremendous backing - something we are confident we will still have moving forward as we embark on looking to make an immediate return to the Barclays Premier League."
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