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Lennie Releases Richard Smith - Raven On A Free

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 13/06/2001

LENNIE LAWRENCE has announced today that he is to release Richard Smith when his contract expires at the end of July. Lawrence said he has made the decision for financial reasons after Smith had more surgery on his back at the beginning of this month and he is unlikely to play before September.

Lennie has had to withdraw the previous offer he made to Smith of a month-to month-contract telling the Grimsby Telegraph: "He's only played two League games this season and he's been a good player - nobody's disputing that. But we can't carry people on wages for ever more who don't play the games."

Lawrence has not closed the door completely. He said he was unable to keep the player because of wage constraints but if he can prove his fitness after he recovers from his recent surgery, he could offer him a further contract.

The Telegraph reported: Smith underwent major back surgery 18 months ago to have two vertebrae fused on his spine and was again under the surgeon's knife for more spinal surgery on June 1 - though the injuries are understood not to be related.

This time, he has had his spinal canal widened and has been told to rest for 12 weeks before he can start jogging meaning it is likely to be October before he is fully fit.

Lawrence has offered the former Leicester City player the use of the club's facilities during his rehabilitation and said he could yet offer the player a contract if he proves his fitness in the autumn.

Lawrence also confirmed that Mark Lever will not be joining Town and that so far no offers had been made for Paul Raven who is available on a free transfer with Alan Buckley being nominated as the person most likely to have an interest in the former Baggie.

"There's been no contact with Lincoln and, as far as I know, with anybody else. We'll deal with any enquiries as and when they come in" said the Town boss.

Following today's annoucements Town currently do not have a single recognised central defender signed up for next season who is not on the transfer list, leading to speculation as to whom Lennie Lawrence is targeting to replace Smith, Handyside (not signed yet), and the transfer-listed Raven.

Nicky Mohan Alan Kernaghan Two UK-based players who are being touted as possible targets of Lawrence, the former Luton, Middlesbrough and Charlton-manager having worked with them at previous clubs, are out-of-contract pair 30-year-old Nicky Mohan (Stoke City, left) and 34-year-old former Republic of Ireland defender Alan Kernaghan (St. Johnstone, right).

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