Paul Cannell, Washington Diplomat striker who has threatened not to play until his contract is renegotiated, said yesterday, "I'm making all preparations to be in the starting lineup March 25" when the season opens.

"I got Gordon's word that they will look at my contract and that's good enough for me," Cannell said after conversations with agent Ken Adam and Diplomat Coach Gordon Bradley. "Just say I want an improved contract. I feel I deserve it.

"I originally signed a two-year contract last year," he said. "Legally, they can hold me to this year, but Gordon agreed to take a look at my situation. I'm working out and I don't anticipate any problems at all."

Bradley said the club has no policy against renegotiating player contracts and that he did talk to Cannell about an extension.

"He's looking for a long-term contract and I'm glad," said Bradley, following a press luncheon at RFK Stadium. "He wants to play here and we want him to stay. There's no problem changing it, but the timing has to be right."

Cannell and defender Jim Steele fell into disfavor with club officials because of what Bradley described as "too many penalties and suspensions last year."

Bradley said he has spoken to both players about their onfield conduct.