ALLAN JOHNSTON has targeted recruiting at least five new players but another of last year's squad has departed.

Midfielders Michael Paton and Rhys McCabe’s contracts expired on May 31 but, while it remains unclear whether Paton will remain a Pars player for at least another year, McCabe has moved on.

After the Press went to print yesterday, League of Ireland club Sligo Rovers announced that the 24-year-old had agreed to join them next month, subject to international clearance.

It is Press Sport’s understanding that a deal had been in place for McCabe to sign last week but the player wanted more time to assess the offer.

He now appears to have chosen a new challenge and while the Athletic boss said there had been no further update on Paton's situation, he said he knows the players he wants to bring to the club.

He has been linked with moves for Hamilton duo Danny Redmond and Greg Docherty, while John Herron – who spent most of last season on loan from Blackpool – has been officially released by his parent club.

However, Johnston commented: “We’re speaking to players all the time and it takes a wee bit of time to get things tied up. We’re interested in a lot of boys; we’ve been at a lot of games and there’s a lot of good players out there, so I’m sure we’ll manage to get the right players in.

“When you look at the shape of the squad, I think defensively we’re looking OK now but we could probably do with a couple of guys in the middle of the park because we’re a wee bit short in there. We need a couple of strikers – we’re obviously short up front – and maybe one more wide player as well.

“You’ve just got to take your time and get the right quality in. We know who we’d like to get on board and we’re trying our best to do that but some things take longer than others, whether it’s trying to get people on loan or trying to get people here permanently.

“It does take time but we know the areas we need to strengthen and the players we want to bring in.”

He added: “People take their time and assess their options but we’re looking at boys who will hopefully improve us. It’s difficult with where we are in the Championship because Premier League teams, and teams round about us, are going to be players we’re looking at. It does make it difficult.

“We said at the start that we didn’t want to change the squad too much. A wee bit of freshness always helps and that’s why we’re trying to bring in a couple of players but you don’t want to make major changes for the sake of it.”