GREG Abbott says City have learned their lesson from having so many out of contract at the same time.

Adam Thompson is added to Stuart McCall’s squad at Peterborough today as the final piece in the club’s transfer-window jigsaw.

His arrival on a season’s loan from Bury just ahead of the deadline ended a summer-long search for a centre half.

Rory McArdle was among a host of senior players to leave Valley Parade at the end of last season when their deals ran out.

It was a situation that Abbott insists will not happen again.

He told the T&A: “When Stuart came in, he didn’t know any of the players well enough to say ‘I want him for one year, want him for two’.

“He almost had to give it to Christmas to establish what type of squad he’d got. By the results, he realised there were some good players in there.

“Previous regimes would have known which ones to do and would probably have done the contracts in the September, not even the January.

“They would have known the strengths and weaknesses already. Rather than having six or seven out of contract, you’d probably have two or three – which is easier to do in January.

“But we were a little bit behind with that.

“If you did try to take two of the players in January, you’ve got to do all six or the others will get upset because they’ve not been spoken to. It’s fraught with danger.

“It can turn into a little discontent and you’re running the risk of falling out with players when the focus has to be on the football.

“But now we’re an established group, the chairman and manager have been in over 12 months, I’ve been in over 12 months.

“We know the out-of-contract players and know we have to make decisions well before January. We certainly will never get into that position again.

“It’s our club, our team, our squad and we know who the targets are. We’re a massive 12 months further down the line.”

Abbott admitted City’s appearance in the League One play-off final also delayed recruitment decisions and potentially allowed other clubs to steal a march.

“That’s probably the one downside of the play-offs,” he added. “You’re preparing way after everybody else.

“It makes it so difficult, being in a different division on the result of one game. You couldn’t wrap up too many deals prior to that.

“It was hard for me to make moves because you had to have consultation with Edin (Rahic) or Stuart on any players we brought in – and their minds were completely on the final.

“And when the result went the way it did, it takes a lot out of you.

“I went away for a week and must have spent four hours every day on the phone – my missus will vouch for that.

“That’s not a holiday but it’s just where we’d got ourselves to and I wanted to give us a fighting chance of getting a competitive squad ready for the start of this season.”

Thompson was a name that had been scrubbed off the list as the hunt for a central defender went to the wire. But his late availability highlighted the transfer window’s volatile nature for Abbott.

“We chased three or four centre halves but they didn’t happen for a number of reasons,” he said. “In the end, we found it very difficult to get one we wanted.

“We could have had one or two who were okay but we wanted better than that. Then we got Adam in and have someone with a very good pedigree.

“I had a lovely phone call from Millwall boss Neil Harris saying how well we’d done to get him. He was their top target if they had stayed in League One.

“Sometimes you drop lucky, other times circumstances go against you – we were a bit late with one or two and there were others we couldn’t afford.”

And having missed out on a couple of targets on deadline day, City are already lining up possible recruits to pursue in the next window.

Abbott said: “We’ve got one or two on everybody’s mind. We can get a good look at them and have conversations with people that might indicate if you can get them early.

“Possibly early in January, if Stuart does decide he needs one or two areas strengthening, we can get the people in that we know a lot about already.”