Fleetwood Town have this morning confirmed the release of six players. In particular, one name on this list will cause much debate among Town’s supporters.
Kyle Dempsey, Matt Gilks, Conor McAleny, Dean Marney, James Cottam and Gerard Garner will all leave the Lancashire club and are free to find new clubs.
Kyle Dempsey Released By Fleetwood Town
Dempsey’s Departure Will Cause Debate
The release of Kyle Dempsey is somewhat of a disappointment to the fans of Fleetwood Town. In January 2020, the 24-year-old midfielder was offered a new three-year contract. According to the Blackpool Gazette, this would have made him one of the highest wage earners at the club. The contract was never signed.
Last season, Dempsey made 30 appearances and scored two goals for Fleetwood in all competitions. In total, he has made 146 appearances and scored six goals for the Lancashire side. He originally joined on loan from Huddersfield Town in August 2016 before joining permanently – via a free transfer – in May 2017.
However, he was out-of-favour during the 2018/19 season. Town’s manager, Joey Barton, elected to send Dempsey on loan to League One rivals Peterborough United. It seemed his Fleetwood career was over, but Dempsey’s attitude helped changed Barton’s opinion.
Other Familiar Names Leaving
Two former Premier League players are also on the release list. These are Matt Gilks and Dean Marney.
Gilks is a former Scotland international goalkeeper, who joined Fleetwood from Lincoln City last summer. He was a member of Blackpool’s Premier League squad of 2010/11. In fact, some Blackpool supporters feel that the Seasiders would have retained their top-flight status had Gilks not missed several months of the 2010/11 season due to a broken kneecap.
Thirty-six-year-old Marney has also played in the Premier League with three clubs. These include Tottenham Hotspur, where he made several appearances after graduating from trainee status. However, he has spent the majority of career at Hull City and Burnley. He gained promotion to the Premier League with both clubs.
Rebuilding the Fleetwood Town Squad
The contracts of Macauley Southam-Hales and Harrison Holgate have been extended. Both players’ contracts had a one-year extension option. Fleetwood have chosen to activate these options.
Meanwhile, the experienced Glenn Whelan could also extend his stay at Highbury Avenue. Talks are continuing between Whelan and Fleetwood over a new contract.
Even if Whelan stays, Barton will have many other places to fill in his new-look squad. Loanees Callum Connolly, Lewis Gibson, Barrie McKay, Harry Souttar, Jordan Rossiter and Isak Thorvaldsson have now returned to their parent clubs.
Arguably, Souttar is the biggest loss to Fleetwood. He first arrived on loan from Stoke City in January 2019. His loan was renewed for the 2019/20 season. During his 18 months at the club, Souttar has made 52 appearances, scoring four goals.
His performances in Fleetwood’s defence have earned the 23-year-old a place in Australia’s international squad. Earlier this year, Stoke appointed Michael O’Neill as their new manager. O’Neill is also seeking to rebuild his own squad, so Souttar could have a strong future at Stoke City. If not, there will be plenty of clubs seeking to sign him.
Earlier this month, Fleetwood signed Shayden Morris to a professional contract.
What Next for Fleetwood?
Fleetwood finished the 2019/20 season in sixth place in the adjusted League One table. This earned them a play-off spot against Wycombe Wanderers. However, a disappointing home performance saw them lose the first leg 4-1. They also had two players sent-off.
Town could not recover the second leg and were eliminated 6-3 on aggregate. Wycombe would later win their play-off final against Oxford United to gain promotion to the Championship.
Without doubt, Barton will use his hurt as motivation to take Fleetwood forward. However, with the likes of Charlton Athletic, Hull City, Ipswich Town, Peterborough United and Sunderland all vying for promotion, it will be a tough job, as it will be for the majority of League One managers next season.