West Ham’s caretaker boss, Trevor Brooking, who has stepped down from his temporary position following the Hammers relegation from the Premier League, has admitted that players will have to be sold as the club tries to balance its books.

The 2-2 draw at Birmingham was not enough to avoid the drop asBolton beat Middlesbrough 2-1 at home.

‘There is now a œ15million-plus gap and we have got to reduce our wage bill,’ admitteed Broooking. ‘That might mean halving it, but we still need a strong enough squad to cope with a 46-game season.”We would like to keep a side that gives us a nucleus to bounce back.

“But to make rash promises at this stage would be silly. We’ve just got sit down and see how the summer develops.

Relegation is expected to lead to the departures of England internationals David James, Michael Carrick, Trevor Sinclair and Joe Cole, with England under-21 striker Jermaine Defoe another likely target for Premiership clubs.

In addition to the English contingent, Italian Paolo Di Canio and French fellow striker Frederic Kanoute are expected to leave the club.

Even a win against Birmingham would not have saved West Ham. Botlon’s win over Middlesbrough rendered the match at St Andrews almost meaningless.

“It’s really frustrating that we didn’t get the win,” Brooking said.

“But the fact is that, whatever we did today – unless we got about eight (goals), it wouldn’t have made any difference.”

‘The players now have to see what this means to them and talk it through with the club and their families.

‘The decisions over who stays and who goes will be a joint thing. I’m sure there will be plenty of speculation in the next few days but we’ve got to take that with a pinch of salt. We’ve got to be sensible and cautious.’