Morecambe boss: January signing would have been a 'top player' in League Two

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Ged Brannan believes Brandon Barker’s prolonged injury absence is the main on-field disappointment of his time as Morecambe boss.

Having taken over in the wake of Derek Adams’ departure last November, Brannan had steered the Shrimps to eighth place in League Two before a run of six defeats in eight.

That dropped them down to 12th, only for Thursday’s three-point deduction to see them 14th and any play-off hopes become the most distant of dreams.

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The year had started with Brannan seeing all five loanees leave the club within a week, followed by the sale of Adam Mayor to Millwall.

Morecambe boss Ged Brannan Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty ImagesMorecambe boss Ged Brannan Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Morecambe boss Ged Brannan Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
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In came eight new signings during the winter window, one of whom was Barker after agreeing a deal until the end of the season.

The 27-year-old, a free agent after leaving Cypriot club Omonia last August, made substitute appearances against MK Dons and Colchester United in January before picking up a hamstring injury.

Barker hasn’t played since and left Brannan wondering what might have been had he stayed injury-free.

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“Brandon is recovering well but I don’t know if we’ll get him on the pitch,” the Morecambe boss said.

“He’s been the biggest disappointment for me – not him personally, but his injury – because I was desperate to see him play.

“Hopefully we can get him for next season because he would have been a top player in this division.

“It was just a freak injury, a turn on the artificial pitch in training, and I think everyone knew it was a pretty bad tear.”

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If Barker’s absence has been the biggest disappointment for Brannan on the pitch, the Shrimps’ home results are close behind.

Though Morecambe’s away record is the seventh best in League Two ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Stockport County, matters on their own pitch have left plenty to be desired.

While they have gained more points at home this season than on the road (31 to 29), they have only won three of 14 matches under Brannan at the Mazuma Mobile Stadium.

Given the closely-fought nature of the fight for League Two’s automatic promotion places and play-off spots, it’s hard to avoid thinking of this season as a missed opportunity.

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It’s a viewpoint Brannan understood, adding: “Our away form has been fantastic and that just shows you, if we had our home form sorted, we’d have been pushing for the top three.

“A lot of things have happened but other teams will say a lot of things have happened to them as well.

“At the same time, you’ve got to look at the positives. At the beginning of the season, everyone was saying we were favourites to go down after the summer we’d had (when 14 players were released and only six were under contract).

“We’ve had the deduction but we’re six points off 63, which – if we ended the season with that – would be the best the club has had in any season it hasn’t been in the play-offs.

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“Something like that would be great for the players because, fair play to them, they have dealt with everything that’s been thrown at them.

“They have put in some fantastic performances along the way, have given 100 per cent in every game and I’m proud of every single one of them.”