Lancaster City boss rejects criticism over club's use of loan market

Lancaster City boss Mark Fell has brushed off criticism about his use of loan players this season in the NPL Premier Division.

By Craig Salmon
Thursday, 24th February 2022, 8:00 am

The Dolly Blues manager has dipped into the market to bolster his squad at various times – and that has caused a certain consternation among other clubs in the division.

At the start of the season, City acquired promising young striker Sam Fishburn from Carlisle United.

The 18-year-old subsequently went on to enjoy a prolific spell, notching eight goals in nine appearances before being recalled by the Cumbrians.

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Sam Fishburn enjoyed a prolific spell on loan at Lancaster earlier in the season (photo: Tony North)

In recent weeks, Fell has swooped for Preston North End youngster Joe Rodwell-Grant, while for the majority of the season City have used loan goalkeepers in the shape of Aidan Dowling and Felix Goddard, both from Blackburn Rovers.

Ideally, Fell would prefer to have players who are permanently signed on within his squad.

However, in the present financial climate, the club often has no option but to work diligently in the loan market to pick up players who can help, even if it’s on a temporary basis.

Having been hit with a number of injuries in recent weeks, combined with the loss of key members of his squad who have left for pastures new, Fell has been scouring far and wide to plug the gaps in his squad.

“I know that we have been criticised, along with Bamber Bridge, in terms of the amount of loans that we have had in,” said Fell.

“But that is where we are, that is where we are as a club. That is where Brig are.

“ We are not in a position to go and pay £200, £300, £400 a week for a centre-half, for example.

“For one, there are very few players who are out there worth that and, secondly, we can’t afford to do that.

“Getting a loan signing in for £100 per week is probably where we are as a club.

“The quality of those loan signings is the big question. Can we get the right player who is ready for this level of football?

“So that is what we are doing. Working with the professional clubs to see what players are out there and whether they are the right fit.

“If it was easy, we would all be doing it but it’s certainly not.”

Last weekend, Storm Eunice ensured City’s scheduled fixture against South Shields – who went to the top of the table on Tuesday night after their 3-1 win over previous

leaders Matlock Town, was postponed.

This weekend City travel to lowly Gainsborough Trinity – and the fixture kicks-off a run of five games against teams who are either mid-table or below.

Currently in 12th spot, City also face strugglers Hyde United and Nantwich Town over the next month as well as Stafford Rangers and Morpeth Town who occupy places 10th and 11th respectively.

It is a great opportunity for the Dolly Blues to go on a great run and propel themselves into the play-off reckoning.

“We won five on the bounce earlier in the season and if we were to do that now, then it would put us right up there,” said Fell.

“I have fed some information to the players with a bit of a breakdown of the rest of the season.

“We have reminded them of what they are capable of . We have trained Saturday, Tuesday and will train tonight – and then head off to Gainsborough on Saturday.

“It is a place where we have generally done well at and we’ll see what we can get. We’ll take each game as it comes but we have eight games against eight teams below us in the table and they are going to be like eight cup finals for us.”

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