An end of season gathering yesterday held a few laughs and smiles in the aftermath of a disappointing night that ended the campaign in late playoff defeat against Grimsby Town on Monday.
Ruben Rodrigues, the clubs top goalscorer, in a Kyle Cameron emblazoned tropical shirt, wished his good byes to his team-mates but only to go off on holiday as he looks to wind down after a tough campaign which saw Notts fall short, in the 45th of a 44 league game season.
Rodrigues is one of fourteen players still under contract at the club and will be reporting back for pre-season training in July, ahead of the 2022/23 campaign which will be, for the fourth successive year, again in the National League, the countries fifth tier of the football pyramid.
Three players have been released. Jeff Lacey, Tyrease Palmer and Dion Kelly-Evans, whilst four more will return to their parent clubs after loan spells, Goalkeeper Viteszlav Jaros heads back to Liverpool, Sam Graham goes back to Rochdale, Zak Brunt returns to Sheffield United whilst Jayden Richardson heads over the river back home to Nottingham Forest.
Of those offered new contracts, Kyle Wootton, Richard Brindley, Adam Chicksen and Tiernan Brooks will all have limited time to make a decision on their futures, Wootton already eyeing the likes of Portsmouth, Rotherham, Stockport County and Barnsley after his nineteen goal season. Full backs Chicksen and Brindley have been regular mainstays over the last two & three years both under Burchnall, and previous Head Coach Neal Ardley who is still eyeing promotion with Solihull Moors.
For Notts current Head Coach Ian Burchnall, the club are hopeful he’ll be staying in charge, having earlier in the month been linked with the managerial job at Forest Green Rovers.
The Leicester born former Ostersund Manager, said in thew wake of Grimsby defeat “We just need to reflect and take stock. The building blocks are here, we’ve reduced the average age of the squad from 29 to 24, we’ve brought in some exciting young players who are developing in the right way.”
“We really wanted to get out of this league this season, it wasn’t to be, so now we have to put the foundations in place for the future.”
Those foundations are built on a large proportion of the team still contracted to the club, the spine of the side will stay from Sam Slocombe in goal, Kyle Cameron and Connell Rawlinson in defence, Jim O’Brien and Matty Palmer in midfield, and amongst others, Eli Sam and Cal Roberts in attack.
Playmaker Roberts, who went off injured during the defeat against Grimsby, hit back on Twitter at fans who’ve called him out for spending too much time in the treatment room recently, he said “I’d just like to address some of the ‘fans’ who are calling me injury prone again, before the game I took an injection in my knee to get me through potentially 120 minutes of football, unfortunately this didn’t go to plan and numbed by whole leg and foot which meant I wasn’t able to run and kick properly. But to end on a positive note, I’d like to thank the fans for their continued support this season, it’s been amazing.”
Hope is that Notts will keep their talisman, they’ll keep Rodrigues too, but Wootton’s exit looks imminent with the levels of club eyeing him up.
As those shown the exit door will need to be replaced, the position’s in need are likely to be at centre forward, whilst a defender or two won’t go amiss, right back and left back could be voids also needed to be filled by the Notts County recruitment staff.
*Main image @tyreace16 After ten years at Notts Tyreace Palmer leaves stating “the club will always be in my heart”