SWINDON Town manager Richie Wellens has announced top scorer and Adver player of the year, Michael Doughty is ‘close’ to signing a new contract at the County Ground in the summer.

Doughty still has a year remaining on his current contract, but Wellens wants to tie the playmaker down to new terms as he starts to build his squad for next season’s attempt at promotion.

The Westminster-born midfielder has bagged 14 goals in 32 appearances during a season where problematic muscle injuries have cost Doughty time out on the pitch.

Ironically, one of Town’s best players came back into the fold at a time that most felt would have only seen Wellens’ men kick on.

Rather than build on their play-off-destined form, Doughty’s return in the home draw against Yeovil marked the start of a six-game winless run that obliterated that outside chance of a top-seven place.

While Doughty’s return and Town’s downturn in form was more than likely to have been an unfortunate coincidence, Wellens is fully aware of the threats that his talisman can carry and is planning to reinforce his attacking options to aid Doughty with his goalscoring and creating exploits.

Wellens said: “I think he’s going to sign a new contract and I think he’s happy here. We’re close to agreeing something. 

“He’s a player that scores goals and if you look at every team in the top six or seven, Lincoln have got (John) Akinde, Tranmere have got (James) Norwood, Mansfield have got Tyler Walker, Bury have got (Nicky) Maynard and Jay O’Shea. 

“My top-scoring striker has got five goals. So my three strikers, one’s on five, and the other two are on four. 

“Theo Robinson has come in in January and scored five. How can we be successful with those stats? We can’t. 

“So we need to work with the players that we’ve got, make sure they improve and then try and bring someone in at the top of the pitch that we can rely on for goals.”

After the dismal 3-2 defeat to Cheltenham on Saturday finally mathematically ended Swindon’s hopes of a top-seven spot, Wellens can now fully commit to assembling a squad that is capable of gaining promotion next season.

Promising good football, Wellens is putting goalscorers at the top of his summer shopping list as the Mancunian feels scoring early makes the game easier for his side to control thereafter. 

Wellens said: “We’ll play good football next year, but we need people at the top end of the pitch who will punish people, because then when we take chances, the game changes in our favour. 

“You’ve seen that recently in our games at Morecambe and Bury. The game becomes easy for us, but if you don’t take your chances and it stays 0-0 or 1-1 for a period of time, then the game will turn fin favour of the opposition. 

“They can break the game up, buy fouls and put it into your box. 

“I don’t want that next year – when we’re on top, I want us to take the opportunities that come our way. 

“Congratulations to Michael Doughty for winning player of the year – he’s another player that I look forward to working with next year.”