O'Neill and Shackell are early links

Last updated : 12 June 2012 By Tony Scholes

Luke O'Neill

Picture reproduced by kind permission of Mansfield FC

Despite there strangely being no retained list announced as yet, there is absolutely no doubt that we'll be looking to increase the size of the squad and that eventual list surely confirming the departures of both Andre Amougou and Brian Easton it is clear that new defensive recruits will be needed.

It was the Daily Mail who first made mention of O'Neill, Mansfield's 20-year-old right back who has been with them for just a season. He started his career with Leicester City and was in the side that won the Premier Academy League in the 2006/07 season.

He made his Leicester debut in September 2008 in a Johnstone's Paint Trophy game against Hartlepool but that proved to be his only first team appearance for them. He went out on loan to both Tranmere and Kettering before making a permanent move to Mansfield last summer on a free transfer.

He's certainly become a regular at Field Mill and has played all but one of their league games in a season that saw them reach the Blue Square Premier League play offs before going out to York City in the semi-final.

Jason Shackell, meanwhile, is far more experienced and this is the second summer we've been linked with him. A year ago he appeared to be very much the number one defensive target before signing for Derby from Barnsley, after which we turned our attentions to Stoke's Ryan Shotton.

He signed a three year contract at Pride Park and has gone on to play in every one of their games in the 2011/12 season so it is no surprise this morning that their manager Nigel Clough has dismissed the speculation which suggests they've rejected a £1.2 million offer for him from the Clarets.

The two players fit perfectly with Eddie Howe's plans. He repeatedly has said he wants to bring in younger players and O'Neill would fall into that category, but he's also stressed the need for some experience and Shackell would certainly provide that.

Anything in them? Who knows for now, but we should hopefully not have quite so long to wait this year for news on signings with Howe having confirmed he'd like to get his business done much earlier than was the case last summer.