BRENTFORD are offering new contracts to the majority of their young first team squad, but are parting with midfield ace Martin Rowlands and three strikers - Leon Constantine, Efan Ekoku and the on-loan Mikael Antoine-Curier, who has returned to Nottingham Forest.

Others being released are midfielders Mark Williams and Riz Rehman and right-back Jay Lovett, recently on loan to Gravesend.The future of centre-half Scott Marshall seems uncertain, but Brentford are waiting to find out if star man Steve Hunt, Kevin O'Connor, Matt Somner, Lee Fieldwick and Jay Smith will be accepting offers they have made them to stay.

Meanwhile, midfielder Eddie Hutchinson and reserve team keeper Alan Julian both agreed new contracts this week for one and two years respectively. Leo Roget has already signed a one-year deal and Brentford have told fellow centre-back Ibrahima Sonko they wish to take up the one-year option on his contract.

The 25-year-old Constantine, for whom Millwall paid £25,000 in September, 2000, has failed to score in the Second Division for Brentford after joining them at the start of the season on a one-year contract. He may now join Oxford United. Nigernian international Ekoku, 35, having scored 100 League goals for AFC Bournemouth, Norwich, Wimbledon and Sheffield Wednesday, has not even played in the Brentford first team after joining on a non-contract basis at the end of March.

Brentford manager Wally Downes has been in hospital for a shoulder operation this week, but chief scout John Griffin said: "We are not keeping Constantine and Ekoku. Leon didn't fulfil our expectations although he could do a good job for another club and Efan didn't get back to full sharpness.

"If we can bring in another couple of players, including Eastbourne Borough striker Scott Ramsay, and persuade Portsmouth to loan us Rowan Vine for another season, we could have a very capable squad.

"The directors have been brilliant in backing us, which means we are able to keep our talented youngsters at the club. The future looks bright."

Vine, Brentford's top scorer with 13 goals, is to ask Pompey manager Harry Redknapp whether he figures in his Premiership plans next season. If he doesn't then Vine looks certain to stay.

I understand O'Connor has been offered a three-year contract, while Hunt, Somner, Fieldwick and Smith have been invited to sign for another two years. In addition, one-year deals have been offered to Jamie Fullarton, Stephen Hughes, Lloyd Blackman, Danny Allen-Page and Rob Traynor.

Paul Smith, Michael Dobson, Stephen Evans, Mark Peters, Jay Tabb and Andy Frampton are already under contract for next season. And it appears that Smith and Dobson are being urged to sign for a further year.

Republic or Ireland Under 21international Rowlands, hit by injuries in the last two seasons, is likely to join QPR, Stoke or Bristol City, while Williams is waiting to see if Bournemouth and Swindon make him any offers after turning out for their reserves in the last two weeks.

May 9, 2003 11:00