JON MCCARTHY admits it will be ‘really difficult’ to keep hold of Chester’s star performers in January.
The Blues boss was fearful when questioned about the upcoming transfer window, with an acceptance that Chester – with one of the lowest budgets in the National League – will have to fight off competition for the likes of Sam Hughes, James Alabi and Kane Richards.
In addition, loan deals for Ryan Lloyd – the heartbeat of the Blues’ midfield in recent months – and full-back Theo Vassell expire in January and McCarthy insists he’d be ‘delighted’ if he could keep the current squad together.
Losing Lloyd would represent a major blow for Chester, with the Port Vale youngster showing real class this season.
“It’s going to be really difficult to hang on to our players because of what they’ve done,” he said. “It’s inevitable there will be interest.
“It’ll be of no surprise to me if we have approaches for half a dozen players. I would be more than happy if January came and went and we still had the same squad of players, if we lose players then I will go and ask the board if we can replace them.
“Why wouldn’t I be happy with a squad that has taken us to seventh? I do need any new presents or new toys this Christmas, I’m just happy with what I’ve got and what I work with.
“Hopefully it passes relatively smoothly but I’d be surprised if it does.
“I let Mark (Maguire, chairman) deal with that stuff, it doesn’t help me to advertise whether we’ve had some interest of not.”
Vassell returned to training earlier today, the Walsall full-back having missed the past fortnight with a virus, following on from a muscular injury which has seen him sidelined for six weeks.
“Theo’s back in training and he’s available,” added McCarthy. “At some point it hits home and the injuries will hurt this small squad but my players keep finding a way to move on and cope with it and that is particularly amazing as a group.”