Who Stays, Who Goes?

With the end of the season will also come the demise of more than a handful of Notts County careers.

This Summer will see a clearout of as many as 15 playing staff – from established pros at the club to youths who were only last year offered professional terms.

Looking at the list – you can’t imagine more than three or four at most having new deals during the close-season. In alphabetical order, players are:

Charlie Allen
For all the enthusiasm Charlie puts out on the field we’re yet to really see the cutting edge that’s been needed so badly at times. Gives the ball away a lot, can be over the top when it comes to tackling – but had good displays alongside both Gavin Mahon and Ricky Ravenhill.

Many would’ve predicted the axe falling on him when his Dad exited Meadow Lane – but to his credit he stuck at it and worked hard (scoring a few goals) in behind closed doors friendlies. Whilst Keith Curle was quick to transfer list others, Charlie remained.

Rob Burch
It’s hard to think up a scenario where Rob Burch might have his contract renewed – in which case he’s quite unfortunate. Having only lost his starting lineup place to Stuart Nelson thanks to injury early in 2011, it’s been clear under the last two managers that Burchio wouldn’t be getting back in the side – that despite a penalty save at Juventus and shaky performances from Nels.

Kasper Schmeichel’s original replacement had done little wrong until that injury, but with Fabian Speiss from the club’s youth ranks already making a name for himself you can’t see Burch being around much longer.

Ben Burgess
One of many in the list who’ll be filed under “Not A Chance”. Ben has bags of talent and is rarely given a fair chance by the Notts fans – that despite working extremely hard last pre-season to get back into shape.

His first season was a disaster – but the start of his second looked promising. There was great linkup play, he became unbeatable in the air – and he was getting goals. But there was never any momentum and Ben was sent to League Two Cheltenham Town where performances have been solid.

Ben’s time at Meadow Lane has reached it’s natural conclusion.

Liam Chilvers
Had this question come up six months ago – Chilvers would be on his way out of the Meadow Lane gates in the same taxi as Burgess. Since returning from a loan spell at Port Vale though, he’s been a real force in the Notts defence.

For much of the final third of the season, he was a first choice centreback alongside either Damion Stewart or Mike Edwards. From being one of the first you’d get rid of – he’s now likely the most important on the list of those out of contract!

Ishmel Demontagnac
The man who posseses the Kop’s most catchy song has never really set Meadow Lane on fire. He’s certainly a wildcard, and looks deceivingly dangerous whenever he’s on the ball but to say he’s got no end product wouldn’t be stretching the point at all.

Will Keith Curle want to manage the player who’s hot headedness has blighted his career up until this point? I’m highly doubtful, it looks as if Ishmel’s most notable contribution in our colours will likely be his red card at Sheffield United back in December.

Mike Edwards
The Phoenix. Written off by many (myself included) this season as not having a way back into the squad was given a new lease of life by the sacking of Martin Allen – a man who had him training with the club’s youngsters. Since returning, Eddie has looked more than comfortable on the occasions he’s been called back into the first team.

With Damion Stewart unlikely to return next year, Notts will probably be looking to renew the contract of at least one out of Chilvers and Eddie. Such a great servant to the club would certainly add a lot to the squad if only because of his experience.

Jon Harley
Like Chilvers, Smiling Jon Harley is another player who returned from a loan spell in League Two (Rotherham) to find his best form in a Notts shirt. Harley has rarely looked the same player that ended the previous campaign so poorly.

Whether he’s worth a contract is another question altogether though. On reduced terms, Harley would certainly be worth a place as a squad player next year – whether that’s acceptable at the age of 32 is doubtful however.

Karl Hawley
Sorry Karl, but you had your chance. Then you had another chance. And then you didn’t make the most of the chance that came after that. In fact – just how many chances were you given (by both supporters and nine managers) in the three years when your goals return didn’t even make double figures?

I’m rarely so acidic when I speak about players, but in this instance i’m considering it justified. Hawley is a fantastic player, with bags and bags of potential – as evidenced in the handful of goals he did score for Notts. But time has ran out, and I sincerely hope Karl (last seen training at Mansfield) can find a club who’ll somehow be able to get the best out of him.

Haydn Hollis
In a poor Notts pre-season last Summer, Hollis was a standout performer. Often nervous looking, but he always got the job done at least. He’s certainly one for the future.

Yet all we saw of him this year was a cameo in the Juventus Arena, and stirling display against Huddersfield and League One’s top scorer Jordan Rhodes. Despite rave reviews, he’s been shipped between non-league sides Hinckley Town and Darlington. He’s the sort of talent Notts can’t afford to let slip through their fingers.

Stephen Hunt
Sadly, Hunty has long been a forgotten figure at Meadow Lane since getting injured in the previous season. Since then he’s attempted more comebacks than Owen Hargreaves (ok ok, that’s a bit unfair!) which have all ended in failure for one reason or another. It’s likely to mean a very sad end to the Notts career of a man so pivotal to the club’s success on the field in 2009/10.

Liam Mitchell & George Nicholas
Chucking this two under the same assessment purely because i’m not sure of their worth to the club. Nicholas has been on the fringe of the first team all year but never made the breakthrough – whilst most will only remember Mitchell for his spitting antics at Tamworth the previous season.

Stuart Nelson
Whether the ever-present of this season Nelson has his contract renewed could easily go either way. As with many League One goalkeepers – he can infuriate as much as amaze. For every incredible save he puts in, you’re left to deal with five or six moments of indecision which mean struggle to feel comfortable with him between the posts.

If we were to be playing in the Championship next year, Nels would be gone. But in League One, like Burch, Nels will have to contend with up and coming Fabian Speiss who has courted attention from Premier League sides already.

Sam Sodje
The man who arrived at Meadow Lane proclaiming he’d make himself a legend got it half right I suppose. Having looked like committing football suicide several times as the club avoided relegation in 2010/11, the Salmon rose this year as both an improvement in the centre of defence – and a legitimate last ditch attacking option.

For whatever reason though, Keith Curle slapped him on the transfer list not long after coming to Meadow Lane. For Sam, it’s not so much a case of scoring in a minute – he’s going to leave in a minute.

John Spicer

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