One in, one out
JOHN Askey’s joy at bringing Lee Bell back to Macc has been tempered by having striker Denny Johnstone snatched away from him.
Midfielder Bell, who spent two years at the club between 2008 and 2010, signed a deadline-day deal on loan from Burton Albion, currently riding high in League Two.
It means Bell – who won a host of admirers during his first spell as a Silkman – could join Rhys Taylor in the club’s ton-up stakes.
Bell and the Brewers lost in last season’s League Two play-off final, meaning the 31-year-old has tasted promotion with his home town team Crewe and the despair of missing out in the play-off lottery.
That’s experience that money can’t buy, thankfully for Macc Town.
“Obviously he’s a lad we know well,” said Askey. “We’ve kept in touch with him over the last couple of years, now the time has come when he’s available and we can get him in.
“Lee will give us another option in the midfield, which is important because Danny Whitaker is struggling with a groin problem, which we think may be connected to the back injury he had earlier in the season. If the game had gone ahead on Saturday (Macc’s league game at Braintree failed an early-morning pitch inspection) he wouldn’t have played.
“Lee was promoted with Crewe so hopefully his experience will be vital as we go after promotion. He lives pretty locally, I know him well personally and he’s got a lot of ability.
“The supporters were sorry to see him go but he’s done well since then and it’s pleasing to get in someone of his quality.”
While delighted with his capture, there was a downside to the end of the transfer window, as Askey lost the services of on-loan striker Johnstone.
The Scot made 10 appearances for Macc, netting three times, but parent club Birmingham exercised their recall clause – and then loaned him straight out again, to Cheltenham Town.
Paul Buckle and the Robins, who couldn’t persuade Adriano Moke to leave Macc for life in the lower reaches of League Two, have indirectly raided the Macc squad, taking 20-year-old Johnstone until the end of the season.
“I’ve spoken to Denny’s agent and he said Birmingham wanted him to go out to a team that would pay all of his wages, which we weren’t able to do,” added Askey.
“It’s very disappointing, but this is what can happen when you rely on loan deals as we’ve had to do.”
●● Lee Bell (main picture) has returned to Macc Town until the end of the season but Denny Johnstone (inset) has been taken away by Birmingham City in favour of sending him to Cheltenham