Roche backs Edwards and Whitmore to thrive at higher level
Morecambe keeper Barry Roche has backed departing defenders Ryan Edwards and Alex Whitmore to shine at a higher level.
Whitmore impressed after making a loan move from Premier League side Burnley, while Edwards’ season yielded three player-of-season awards and a move to Plymouth Argyle following their promotion to League One.
Having played behind both defenders during the course of the 2016/17 season, Roche has no doubts as to what the future holds for both players.
“I know there were teams looking at Alex Whitmore from higher divisions,” he told BBC Radio Lancashire.
“I don’t know Burnley’s plans for him but it would be no surprise if a League One side came in for him for a year to help with his development.
“With Ryan you only have to look at the end-of-season awards to see how well he did.
“I think he played more games than anyone else in the squad and fully deserves his move.
“He’s a fantastic defender and I think there’s a lot more to come; he’s only going to get better.
“I know Ryan’s said, going back a couple of seasons, if the ball dropped then he would try to take it down and do a Cruyff turn but he’s changed.
“His first thought is to get rid of the ball but his defending and decision making last season was superb.
“As soon as he joined, we saw him on the training ground and the ability he had but he really kicked on and was absolutely outstanding for us at the back.
“He’s the best header of the ball I’ve seen in the league.”
As Morecambe’s star man last season, it was inevitable Edwards was always going to be a man in demand.
By offering the defender a new contract – and with him being under 24 years of age – the Shrimps at least received compensation from Argyle for developing the defender during his three years at the Globe Arena.
There were also rumours linking the 23-year-old with a move north of the border; not that he was giving anything away to anybody, least of all his team-mates.
“Don’t get me wrong; we were asking him what’s going on but he kept his cards very close to his chest,” Roche said.
“You hear whispers someone’s interested and we knew he would be going on to a bigger club and he deserves it.”
As for Edwards, he is looking forward to testing himself at a higher level and helping Argyle try to build on last season’s promotion back to League One.
“I couldn’t go any further or I’d be on my way to France,” he said.
“It took a long time but I knew there was interest towards the end of last season.
“I’m very excited to be playing at a higher level and I can’t thank Morecambe enough; I loved every minute.”