City defender offered new deal

Lancaster City boss Mark Fell. Picture: Tony North.
Lancaster City boss Mark Fell. Picture: Tony North.

Young Lancaster City defender Oliver Muir has until tomorrow to put pen to paper on the new contract offered to him by the club.

The 19-year-old has so far stalled on committing his immediate future to the Dolly Blues after being presented with fresh terms following the end of the season.

One of the club’s contracted players from last season, manager Mark Fell has high hopes for the future for Muir and is eager to keep him at Giant Axe.

He played a number of times for City in the NPL Premier Division, but has sought assurances about the amount of game time he will receive next season.

Fell is keen to have Muir as an important member of his squad next season but as far as the boss is concerned the centre half is still very much at the development stage of his career.

He wants to see Muir knuckle down, enjoy his football and continue his footballing education at the club.

“Olly wants some assurances which for a 19-year-old who has had a lot of first-team football, I find a little bit strange,” said Fell.

“I am big on young player development.

“I have worked at Preston North End’s youth set-up for six years and Accrington Stanley – I am a big believer that young players should not be able to run before they can walk. For a 19-year-old lad like Olly, for me it’s still all about development.

“I have given him my view on it. He’s got a deal on the table and he’s got until the end of this week to sign it.

“The decision is up to Olly. The offer won’t be improved – we can’t be held to ransom.

“He’s a very good defender and we want to keep him.

“He’s a player that can become an excellent player for us moving forward. I think he has the ability to play hundreds of times for the club and go on to captain the club in the future.

“He’s got a good opportunity at Lancaster City. He’s played 15 first-team games as a 19-year-old – that’s very good.

“Whether an agent is involved I don’t know, but my view on agents is that when it comes to young players, they can do more harm than good.

“The deal is there until tomorrow and it’s up to him whether he signs it.

“If he doesn’t sign it then we will have to maybe look to sign somebody to fill the gap.”

Last week, City announced the signings of experienced duo Jason Walker and Niall Cowperthwaite, who have both arrived from relegated Workington.

And Fell is confident that he has agreed deals with two other players on a non-
contract basis.

“I was really pleased to get those deals done early,” said Fell.

“Niall and Jason are good players – players who will suit us.

“They did not have the best of seasons at Workington, although I don’t think their relegation was a particular slight on them.

“They were always far and away the best performers whenever I watched them play.

“It’s great that we have brought them in but I’m probably only expecting to bring in another two or three.

“I think we have probably done deals with two but it’s a difficult situation because we can’t register them until July 1 with them being non-contract.

“The problem is if we announced them now then you’re alerting other clubs to their availability.

“Some players will move for more money even if they have agreed verbally to sign for you although I don’t think that will be the case with these two.”

Fell is still busy finalising the club’s pre-season fixture list.

He was hopeful of arranging a game against AFC Fylde, but unfortunately the Coasters are not able to commit.

However, City will face a Welsh Premier League side and will also have Football League opposition.

That is on top of fixtures against Clitheroe, Squires Gate and Charnock Richard.