Bentley turns attention to next season with squad to build

Jim Bentley applauds the fans after the final whistle at Luton.
Jim Bentley applauds the fans after the final whistle at Luton.

Morecambe manager Jim Bentley admits the hard work has already started with plans having to be put in place for next season.

Having bowed out of the 2016/17 season with a 3-1 defeat at Luton Town on Saturday, attention now focuses on the Shrimps’ playing squad for next time around.

Only a handful of senior players - namely Danijel Nizic, Aaron McGowan, Rhys Turner, Luke Conlan and Dean Winnard - have deals in place for the 2017/18 campaign.

However, while the club’s ownership remains in limbo, Bentley is having to work without knowing a definite budget for next season.

That situation would hardly be ideal at the best of times, let alone when trying to convince players including Ryan Edwards and Michael Rose to sign new deals at the Globe Arena.

“We are working on things at the minute,” he said.
“There are a lot of meetings to be going on with myself, players, staff, the board of directors, the chairman and the owner - whoever that might be - to get ourselves sorted.

“We need to build a squad but we’re already on with arranging pre-season games, the date the players are back and the kit.

“However, we need players to put in that kit and that’s the main thing we have to sort out.”

Last year saw Bentley working against similarly difficult odds with eight trialists figuring in the opening pre-season match at Bamber Bridge.

Some of those, like Rose, Nizic and Burnley loanee Alex Whitmore, did enough to earn a deal with the Shrimps, in contrast to Deane Smalley and another Turf Moor youngster, Dan Agyei.

Bentley admits a similar scenario this time around is something he would like to avoid once the players return for pre-season training on Wednesday, June 28.

“Ideally you want your squad in as early as possible; preferably on day one,” he acknowledged.

“Last year was a bit different because of the budget and what we had available.

“We had a lot of trialists in pre-season but you can’t just get 13 or 14 players and have them playing 90 minutes all the time because they’ll be done in.

“We have to make sure we introduce them slowly, giving them 45 minutes each in the first game, and then we’ll go from there.

“I don’t think there will be too many trialists because it’s difficult for the players and it’s difficult for us, so we’ll see what we can do and do the job to the best of our ability.

“There’s a lot of work for myself, Kenny (McKenna, assistant manager) and the board to do over the next few weeks before we have a well earned rest in June.

“Then we’ll get as much done as we can before the players come back for pre-season training.”