Jim Bentley wants to retain the majority of Morecambe’s squad

Aaron Collins has been offered a contract
Aaron Collins has been offered a contract
Share this article

Morecambe boss Jim Bentley would like to keep the majority of his squad together after confirming his retained list last week.

Only five players have not been offered terms for next season, one-year-options have been taken up on another five, contracts on the table to 10 more players and discussions ongoing with Alex Kenyon.

Among those on the manager’s wishlist for next season include Aaron Collins, who netted eight goals to finish as the club’s top scorer despite only joining in February. He will have attracted interest from elsewhere, as will players such as Zak Mills, both of whom have been cornerstones of the side which finished the season 18th in League Two.

There is also the question of whether Bentley would be able to do a deal for a player such as Richie Bennett.

Having joined on loan from Carlisle United in January, he netted five times and was released by the Cumbrians last week.

“If we did have this squad at the start of the season then I would fancy us to be in the top half,” Bentley said.

“The proof is in the pudding with regard to the last 15 games but whenever we get anyone who is doing alright and they are out of contract, it’s very hard for us to keep them.”

Should Mills or Collins both opt for any move elsewhere, it would continue a trend whereby the Shrimps bring in players, develop them and then watch other clubs reap the benefits.

It has happened with players in the past as Bentley readily acknowledged.

He said: “We have a good record of bringing players in and they have gone on to bigger and better things – or a higher level, a better place or more money, whatever it might be.

“That’s part and parcel of the game and certainly when you’re at a club like ours; the smallest in it and we don’t pay the wages people can get elsewhere.

“We will try our utmost to keep the majority of the squad together.

“There’s a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes and you have to take everything into consideration.

“Finances are one of them; it would be nice to go out and say ‘What do you want? There it is and let’s stay together’ but it doesn’t work like that.

“We will do what we can but I’ve known for all the years I’ve been in management that, using Aaron McGowan as an example, he wins player of the year and the next thing is he’s playing for Hamilton Academical.

“The year before, I think it was Ryan Edwards; we wanted him to stay and then he’s playing at Plymouth Argyle.”