NEW Batley Bulldogs head coach Craig Lingard is allowing players to terminate their contracts if they wish to leave the club following his appointment – but has received only positive feedback in his first week in the job.
Club legend Lingard was handed a one-year rolling contract after the Bulldogs parted company with Matt Diskin after three years in charge, and admits he faces a race against time to build a squad ready for the 2020 campaign.
The re-signing of Keenen Tomlinson and Michael Ward takes them up to 13 of last year’s squad on the books for next season, although Lingard is yet to speak to some of those players to confirm their intentions.
Two further players, who are yet to be named, have also signed from elsewhere and Lingard has confirmed that both will be playing at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium next season as planned.
“My priority in this first week is just trying to make contact and touch base with everybody who’s played for Batley this year, whether they’ve already re-signed or not been offered a contract yet,” said Lingard.
“I’m making sure I speak to everyone out of courtesy, and anybody who’s already agreed to stay on for next year I’ve given the opportunity to have a release from their contract, because they signed their contract in different circumstances under a different coach.
“Fortunately for me, nobody has said they want to take that option up, but I just think it was the right thing to do so when we start pre-season there’s nobody there under false pretences, who didn’t want to be there in the first place.
“They’ve been offered the opportunity if they so wished to step away from the club but nobody has as of yet, and the vibes I’m getting from people are pretty positive.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to has been very happy to stay at the club.
“There are some that I’ve not been able to get in touch with because there are a few on holiday as you would expect.
“So far everyone I’ve spoken to has been more than happy to stay at the club and hopefully try and progress from what they’ve done last season to try and get a higher league position next year.”
He admits that the player pool available for recruitment is smaller as the club have been left “four or five weeks behind” in speaking to players.
However, he says that the biggest lesson from his two-and-a-half-year spell at Keighley that he will be applying to the Bulldogs is in recruiting the right type of people.
“One thing we did with our recruitment there is get good people in,” he said. “We knew we didn’t have a great deal of money, if any money, to spend so we had to make sure when we spoke to people that we got the right person with the right attitude, who wanted to achieve something and better themselves.
“That’s certainly something I’ll be looking at in terms of recruitment and retention this year at Batley, that we’ve got to get really good people on board.
“We know that we can’t compete with certain clubs in the league financially so when we’re recruiting there is only a certain pool of players that we can choose from.”