JOHNSTONE Burgh co-manager Colin Smith has revealed he is close to adding to his firepower as he searches for a replacement for the departed Jason Hardie.

Hardie was a star man for Smith and fellow co-boss David Brolly, but the striker’s goalscoring exploits alerted Petershill and he has now completed the switch to the Super League First side. Smith admitted replacing Hardie would be difficult but made it a top priority in Burgh’s recruitment.

He has been running the rule over two strikers in training, which started back last Monday, and is confident of signing them – but he was wary of revealing names to avoid alerting other clubs.

He said: “We’ve had a couple of strikers in at training, I won’t mention their names in case other teams start having a loo. A couple of the boys here could fit the bill as well.

“We also have Stephen Fitzpatrick, who played wide for most of last season but he’s more comfortable up front and he’s looking really sharp just now.”

Midfielder Sean Fitzharris is another who won’t be back at Keanie Park next season after switching to local rivals Renfrew.

Smith admitted it was a bitter blow that Burgh didn’t see coming.

He said: “Renfrew are signing Sean Fitzharris, which we didn’t know about until the latter stages. It’s a big blow for us but he wants to play at a higher level so that’s the way it goes.”

With pre-season in full flow, Smith and Brolly are close to finalising their squad and only have a few places to fill as Smith admitted they will work with a smaller squad this term.

Smith added: “We’ve had a few players at training we’re hoping to speak to with a view of signing. There’s got 15 or 16 signed just now. We’ll add a few more before the start of the season. After the League Cup Sectional there might be more come in as well but “We’d be looking for about 19 or 20 for a squad for the season.”

“We had a bigger squad last season and some players weren’t getting on the bench at times.”