DUMBARTON manager Stevie Aitken admits he faces an uphill struggle to keep star striker Christian Nade at the club.

The French striker was a key man in Sons' SPFL Championship survival, firing seven goals in just 10 league starts since his arrival from Hamilton Accies in January.

The 31-year-old found the net in crucial wins over Hibs, Alloa and Queen of the South.

Having proven his fitness and with a wealth of top-flight experience, Aitken expects Nade to attract suitors. However, Reporter Sport understands St Mirren are not one of those clubs, as has been widely rumoured.

Aitken has offered terms to all of his remaining squad members and faces an anxious wait for their decisions, particularly in Nade’s case.

Aitken said: “If I was a full-time manager, I’d certainly be looking at Christian. He’s scored some great goals and his attitude and performances have been great since he arrived.

“We have to wait on that one, the way we do with the other players. Every manager and team are different and teams might have less of a budget this year because Rangers are out of the league.”

The Sons boss is in talks with a number of players as he looks at strengthening most areas of his squad, with 10 players already having left the club.

One position Aitken doesn’t want to go into the market for is goalkeeper. Mark Brown is the only member of the squad signed on for next season having penned a two-year deal last summer.

However, the veteran keeper has lost his starting spot to Jamie Ewings. Ewings has been offered a new deal and it is unclear whether Brown would want to remain at the club as a back-up.

Aitken is adamant he wants both his goalkeepers to stay but should Brown ask for a move, the Sons boss would consider finding him another club.

He said: “I’m confident we have two good goalkeepers and I feel we need that competition. It’s not an area I want to look at because I have priorities elsewhere. If Mark comes and says he is not happy, then we would look at it the same way we would with any player.”

Dumbarton last week announced they were disbanding their under-20s team for next season. Aitken insists he understands the concerns of parents of players in the youth team but he believes a restructuring of the Sons youth set-up is required and hasn’t ruled out the under-20s team returning in the future.

He added: “It was a difficult decision. We had to work out the best way around it. We felt it was best to focus on the four teams we get funding for, it is no reflection on any of the staff or the players.

“It’s not an indefinite thing, we just thought one season out to restructure the youth set up was right. We need to look at our scouting and if we’re missing out on players that we should be getting."

“For me every good young player from the Dumbarton area we should be identifying and getting in. There are lots of good boys clubs in the area but most of our 20s team from last year were coming from out with our area.”