DOUGIE Freedman reckons three more attacking signings are needed before his side can be considered promotion candidates.

With just four days remaining before the season gets going at Watford, the Wanderers boss is still searching for a solution to last term’s goal-scoring problems.

Freedman has not spent a penny in transfer fees this summer bringing in the likes of Dean Moxey, Neil Danns, Liam Feeney, Dorian Dervite and Liam Trotter.

But his attempts to add more attacking options have thus far proved fruitless as the club’s tight financial situation continues to bite hard.

Money is being spent elsewhere in the Championship, with Middlesbrough yesterday adding £1.5million Adam Clayton to their ranks from Huddersfield Town but Freedman insists his side can also be among the front runners if they find a way of funding the right deals.

“If we’re going to make any impact on the top positions, I believe we need to add three attacking options,” he told The Bolton News. “Whether that’s in the loan market or buying them, I’m not quite sure yet.

“One or two teams always spend their millions but at the moment, you’re getting teams like Huddersfield Town or Bournemouth – getting crowds not far off our own – spending big on players too.

“Unfortunately, we’re not able to do that right now. The money was spent in the Premier League.

“But if we work hard, get some attacking players in, then there’s no reason why we can’t punch above our weight.”

Reports yesterday suggested Cardiff City striker Joe Mason was close to agreeing a season-long loan deal to return for a third spell at Wanderers.

The 22-year-old is high on Freedman’s shortlist but sources at the club strenuously deny he will be in place to feature this weekend at Vicarage Road.

Mason is in the process of signing a new contract with Cardiff and is also wanted by a handful of other clubs.

Jermaine Beckford and Craig Davies are the only senior strikers heading into the opening day, although Conor Wilkinson’s rapid improvement could also see him secure a place on the bench.

Competition for the promotion places is likely to be even tougher for the Whites this season, given their own parachute payments have been reduced.

By comparison, recently-relegated clubs such as Fulham have been able to spend big – investing £10million on Scotland international Ross McCormack from Leeds United.

Freedman may well have to utilise the loan market to find the players he needs – but remains confident his side can compete.

“I can’t sit in my office and whinge about Fulham, Norwich or Cardiff spending on players,” he said.

“As a coach I have proved that you don’t always need money, it doesn’t always guarantee success. It can possibly help you get there quicker but I think it can tear things down quicker too if you don’t get it right.

“We’ve used the loan market to good effect but personally I feel loans should only be used in an emergency. I’d prefer to work with a player over time and develop them.

“I keep giving the chairman options and if he can do them, great, if not we’ll move on.”