Pilley: I could not let Vardy go

Andy Pilley, BES founder and managing director
Andy Pilley, BES founder and managing director

CHAIRMAN Andy Pilley is pleased that star player Jamie Vardy is free to focus on promotion after the club resisted all temptation to sell the striker during last month’s transfer window.

It has been reported that the Conference leaders rejected £1m bids from Leicester and Southampton, though Pilley would only confirm that Town received “numerous sizable offers” for the 25-year-old.

Summing up a manic month in which high-profile clubs from both sides of the border pursued Town’s top scorer, Pilley told The Gazette: “We just considered it was in the club’s best interests to keep hold of Jamie until the end of the season and do everything we can to win promotion.

“All the calls we received last month about Jamie didn’t bother me but it doesn’t help the player.

“He didn’t know what was going to happen to him, but now he knows he is with us for the rest of the season. Who know if this will all start again in the summer? But for now Jamie can concentrate on the job we brought him here to do – to help us win promotion.”

Asked if Town’s insistence on Vardy being loaned back until the end of the season may have scuppered a January deal, Pilley added: “There could have been a few reasons why it didn’t happen but the main thing is that we didn’t want to lose him.”

As for the title race ahead, the chairman added: “It now comes down to who does best in the last 16 games and it’s hard to say whether it will go the wire. All I know is that we are in the driving seat and masters of our destiny.”

n The campaign may be heading towards a thrilling conclusion but Town defender Paul Linwood has no hesitation in labelling it: “the worst season of my life”.

A knee injury has restricted the 28-year-old to three appearances and he summed up his frustration. “I’ve always been a 40-45 games-a-season man. I missed the first six games this season, then came back and we had three good wins before I did my knee again.

“I played in a behind-closed doors match against Accrington after a three-month absence and broke down again.’

“I’ve had another operation and I’m feeling confident enough to start some real rehab again.

“I’m spending most of my time in the gym. It’s a tough regime and like a prison cell at times, but it’s something you have to get on with.

“It can be mind-numbing, though! It kills you mentally, especially when the lads go out to training and leave you behind.”

But the former Grimsby player, who is studying physiotherapy at Salford University, hasn’t written his season off.

He added: “I would be happy to get the last six weeks and, hopefully, play a part in our promotion push. I hope to get have another seven or so seasons in the game and I definitely want my future to be at Fleetwood Town. It’s the best club I’ve been at and I feel great here.”

And he is confident that, with or without him, Town are capable of going up.

“The lads are flying and playing with so much confidence,” he says. “You only have to look at the quality of the the bench, even those who don’t make the bench. We have a squad of League Two or even League One ability, and a manager and chairman with genuine ambition.”

Paul Linwood interview:

DAVID MITCHELL