WHISPER it quietly right now (as nothing is certain at Blackburn Rovers at the moment) but Steve Kean could start the new season with a much stronger squad than he finished the last one with.

I never thought I would be writing the above sentence after a chaotic, confusing and, at times, shambolic transfer window.

But with just over a week until the big kick-off, there are finally some signs of it all coming together.

There is no doubt the transfer market has been a harsher place to deal in than the inexperienced Kean could have ever have imagined, with agents making even the simplest of deals difficult.

Venky’s have dallied and targets have been lost, leaving supporters frustrated by the amount of speculation but complete inactivity.

You couldn’t help fearing when the proposed move for free agent Hugo Pavone collapsed a few weeks ago that Rovers’ efforts in the market were doomed.

And don’t listen to anyone who suggested last season’s squad, minus Phil Jones, was strong enough to enjoy a good season.

It wasn’t and they showed that in a disastrous first five months of 2011.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some very good players at Ewood but the strength in depth was not enough to prevent another season of struggle. Players are needed.

David Goodwillie and Serbian midfielder Radosav Petrovic look like they will be two new faces lining up for Rovers next season – more than capable replacements for departing loanees Roque Santa Cruz and Jermaine Jones.

Phil Jones is impossible to replace but, with Chris Samba, Ryan Nelsen and Gael Givet still in the squad, you get the feeling Rovers can make do without him.

Ruben Rochina and Mauro Formica look as though they are now ready to play some part this season and, if Kean is able to find another striker and a versatile defender from somewhere, then things suddenly don’t look too bad at all.

You do fear a lot hinges on the future on inspirational skipper Samba as his departure would see Kean’s plans collapse like a house of cards.

Rovers can make do without one key centre back but if they lost Samba as well you would suddenly start to fear for their long-held reputation of being organised and solid at the back.

Basically keep the vultures away from Samba and Kean doesn’t have too much left to do to build a squad a capable of comfortably avoiding trouble.

Lose him and there will be some massive rebuilding to do with the new season now just around the corner.

Read Andy Cryer's thoughts on Joey Barton, the Championship and the Rovers fans in Hong Kong in today's Lancashire Telegraph newspaper.