One in, one out

Macclesfield Express - - SPORT - MIKE GLENDIN­NING

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.”

Pics: Andy Lam­bert / Do­minic Sal­ter

●● 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

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