Matt Grimes and Russell Martin walk off the pitch after defeat at Stoke City. Pic: Getty Images.

Russell Martin Promises Major Clear-Out At Swansea City And Warns Players: You Need To Shape Up

By Paul Jones

Russell Martin has vowed to undertake a major summer shake-up of his Swansea City squad after any lingering hopes of a play-off push appeared to be extinguished by defeat at Stoke City.

The Swansea head coach admitted his current crop of players are simply not up to the rigours of a 46-match Championship campaign as they lost for the 12th time and third in four games.

He also implied that some players within his group do not prepare well enough for the demands of a long campaign which often requires players to play two matches a week.

Martin seemed to suggest he is now already looking towards a summer rebuild after a 3-0 defeat left his side 10 points adrift of the play-off places.

“This team is going to look very different, physically, next season,” promised Martin, who suffered a frustrating January transfer window in which the club failed to recruit a number of targets he proposed.

A total of 10 players left the club, either through loan deals or returns to their parents clubs – but only six arrived, with just two of those being permanent signings.

Of those two, goalkeeper Andy Fisher has come into the team but defender Nathaneal Ogbeta has yet to play after arriving from Shrewsbury carrying an injury.

 

“The physical profile of our players – the ones we currently have, whoever we bring in – is going to be very different.

“Even tonight, trying to [look at] the long-term picture, to make them (the players) clear of what’s expected – they need to be in the best physical shape possible,” Martin added.

“I don’t think we have got enough of them that are, being brutally honest. I said to the guys – how they recover, how they eat, how they sleep, how they drink, how they train, really, really matters.

“We need to be in the best shape possible because we have a lot of games coming up.

“I can’t keep coming out to you (the media) after a brilliant Saturday on a Tuesday – it’s happened too many times this season.”

Stoke brushed aside Swansea to climb back to within three points of the top six with goals from Jaden Philogene-Bidace, Lewis Baker and Jacob Brown after Ryan Bennet was sent off for handball in the 58th minute.

The Swans have now played back-to-back games with only 10 men for the final half hour after Ryan Manning’s dismissal in the 1-0 win over Blackburn last Saturday.

 

Martin’s team were able to hang on through a gritty, determined display against Rovers, but at Stoke it was a very different story as they fell apart in a one-sided second-half.

The former MK Dons chief has rarely been too critical of his players in recent weeks, but this time he conceded: “It’s not good enough.

“We didn’t start the game well. Saturday has taken a lot emotionally, physically and mentally out of the guys.

“We just haven’t got enough players who can play relentlessly throughout a busy schedule. We were forced into a lot of changes and we paid the price.

“There wasn’t enough intensity and there was a lack of quality on the ball, which hasn’t been the case for so long.

“We started the second half so poorly, which is unacceptable. We tried to make a couple of changes, but then Benno (Bennett) gets sent off and that’s the game done.

 

“It’s damage limitation at that point. The boys stuck at it and gave everything they’ve got, but we’ve come against an aggressive, really athletic and experienced team.

“If you look at our team, it’s very young and very inexperienced, different to theirs and we paid the price for it.”

Stoke manager Michael O’Neill said: “It was a really good performance altogether. From start to finish, I thought we dominated from the off.

“I was disappointed we weren’t ahead at half-time but scoring early in the second half and then getting another after the red card, the game was done at that point.

“I think we’ve played well recently without getting what we’ve deserved. I felt we deserved more against Huddersfield and Fulham and tonight we got what we deserved.

“The team looks rejuvenated and fresh and we’ve got to maintain that between now and the end of the season.”

 

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